Alright, this subject is not my strong-suit since it has a lot to do with the bylaws of the Collective Bargaining Agreement associated with the National Hockey League.
To tell you the truth, I probably have a better chance at becoming fluent in the Icelandic language than I do fully understanding the CBA, in and out, one day.
But that's neither here nor there.
In case you've become completely engulfed by the tragedy stricken from the Phillies and Eagles epic failures over the weekend and happened to miss out on some potentially very important Flyers detail; Blair Betts failed his physical (due to lower-body injury) with the Montreal Canadiens after getting picked up off Waivers last week.
Therefore, according to the CBA, the Canadiens have the rights to cancel the Waiver move completely and send Betts back to the Philadelphia Flyers. Which is exactly what the Canadiens did.
This is a problem. For the Flyers.
Some may be excited to get Betts back, but considering a lot of factors....waiving Betts was initially the right decision.
Our penalty-kill is sharp and playing successfully right now, and even Peter Laviolette's called Couturier "one of our best PKers."
"Well that's fine! What's one more great PK player going to hurt?"
The answer to that is Couturier's chances of remaining on this Flyers roster throughout the rest of the season.
According to the league's CBA, "teams are only allowed to have up to 50 players signed to contracts for any given season, including those for the players on the active roster and injured reserve lists."
Adding Betts doesn't quite put the Flyers over the 50 contract ceiling.........yet.
I'll use an example I found dating back to 2009 when the Edmonton Oilers had a similar situation with then-rookie, Jordan Eberle. Much like Couturier, Eberle was an 18 - 19 year old skater signed to a SPC (Standard Player Contract) which all NHL'ers are signed to. It's basically the very basis of every skater's contract who further participate in the National Hockey League.
Go ahead. I'll give you a moment to read that SPC over....
....back so soon? Yea. It's a jungle of run-on sentences and sections that'll make your eyes go crossed.
Anyways, Sean Couturier is in a position where his Club (the Philadelphia Flyers) can loan him back down to the Major Juniors where he's played prior to being selected by Philadelphia in the 2011 NHL Draft. His SPC will still remain with the Flyers, but it wouldn't count against the 50 Maximum Contracts each NHL Club is limited to.....unless....
Unless Sean Couturier plays a minimum of eleven NHL games.
What happens after he plays eleven NHL games? His contract counts against the limit. Here's where Betts and his contract comes in.
Right now Couturier does not count against the limit because of his age, the ability his Club has to loan him down to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the fact he's only played two NHL regular season games thus far with the organization.
So now the important question looms -- Will Paul Holmgren allow Couturier to play the full eleven games? Because if that's the case, SOMETHING has to happen.
"Just call Couturier back up from Major Juniors further down the schedule!"
Well, technically that could happen....after the NHL Club exhausted all of its AHL and ECHL resources (info brought to light by Tyler at The Hockey Guys). A virtual impossibility.
"Waive Betts again!"
Hold on there, chief. Land your plane.
The whole reason for waiving Betts in the first place was because Paul Holmgren knew he'd be picked up. We all did. A dependable, 4th line center who's a great PK player at $700K? It's a steal!
But now that he's been returned to the Flyers because of an injury, he'd shoot straight through the waiver wire. He'd drop to the AHL, but that contract still remains against the Club....and again, Couturier's the odd man out.
Also not gonna happen.
Jody Shelley's contract is ridiculous for the type of player he is. Love him or hate him, not a single Club in line during the 24-hour time will snatch and take on that cap hit from Shelley. He's not worth it. They know it. We know it.
So Jody would fall on the AHL heap, but that contract of his would still count against the Club.....and again, Couturier's the odd man out.
"Is there a trade pending?"
Okay, NOW you're asking the right questions.
It's inevitable that something's gonna happen. I'm half inclined to point out how Scott Hartnell's been victim to lesser minutes on the ice and has been part of the trade rumor-mill for the better part of a month.
"But....trading Hartnell for another player doesn't eliminate a contract, Mike."
Remember a certain player named Simon Gagne? He was traded during the off-season one league year ago. That move (which so many completely ignored) is what's called a "salary dump".
We could POSSIBLY see something like this with Hartnell (or some other player) only this trade would not involve two or more players. We could trade Harts for a few future Draft picks. All assuming he'd waive his No-Trade Clause (NTC) on his current NHL contract.
I'll continue to use Hartnell as my example here --
Another possibility (which I believe will not happen, but it IS possible) is that our Club throws Hartnell to the Waiver Wolves and we watch a $4.2M cap hit get picked up for NOTHING in return except to subtract a contract.
This is all speculation. I haven't heard anything valid from anyone about Hartnell possibly becoming the goat in all this drama. But I figured it was an appropriate example to use.
So in all, this Betts thing is one enormous headache, and once again.....we're all hanging on, watching, and hoping Holmgren's got something up his sleeve.