Flyers make difficult (and surprising) call by placing Allison on waivers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
VOORHEES, N.J. — Not even an hour after practice Friday, Wade Allison saw his future with the Flyers go right up in the air.
The Flyers, in a surprising move, placed the winger on waivers. Over the next 24 hours, teams will have an opportunity to grab Allison. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll report to the Flyers’ AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.
Allison could be attractive to other clubs. He’s a 2016 second-round draft pick with some top-six skill and a bottom-six motor. But Allison has also battled injuries in his career, which have limited him to 75 career NHL games.
Allison, who turns 26 years old next Saturday, skated as an extra forward on the fourth line in practice Friday. With good health and a couple of prospects vying for games, the Flyers have had tough decisions to make on their final job openings up front.
Toward the end of training camp and preseason, Allison was battling Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink to be either the 12th forward in the season-opening lineup next week or one of the extras.
Last season, Allison played 60 games for the Flyers. He recorded nine goals, six assists and a minus-3 rating in 12:54 minutes per game. The power forward finished with 190 hits, the second most on the team, and 62 blocked shots, the third most among the Flyers’ forwards.
Allison missed time with an oblique strain and a hip pointer, as well as a few other minor issues. When asked about Allison after a practice in mid-March, John Tortorella said repeatedly he’s “always hurt.”
During training camp last month, the head coach mentioned how Allison had improved in different areas but was in “a dogfight” for a role.
“I think he has improved even before he gets on the ice,” Tortorella said. “I think he’s more businesslike, at least that’s what he looks like to me. That’s something I wanted him to really work on. You need to have fun, but when you come into the building, it’s time to work, too. So I think he has made tremendous improvements there. I think his game improved. So it’s not so much winning me over, but he has got to keep on progressing. He just has to remember who he is.”
Allison is in the second year of a two-year, $1.57 million contract and will be a restricted free agent after this season.
The Flyers’ roster stands at 24 healthy players. It must be trimmed to a max of 23 players and submitted by 5 p.m. ET Monday. The team opens the regular season Thursday next week against the Blue Jackets in Columbus, Ohio (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
Felix Sandstrom, the Flyers’ third goalie, will eventually be placed on waivers for the purpose of sending him to the Phantoms. At that point, the club could be set at 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies.
The decisions then become tougher with who sits and who plays. Foerster is 21 and Brink is 22. The Flyers, a rebuilding team, want their prospects playing, not sitting, whether it’s in the NHL or the AHL.
To open the season, could Foerster and Brink both stay with the Flyers and rotate games depending on the matchup?
“If we feel both of them deserve to be here, that’s an avenue we can go to,” Tortorella said Friday. “We haven’t gotten there yet. That’s the call we have to make each week as far as how they’re playing.
“We want to play the kids, we do, but if we’re putting these young players in a spot that we think is hurting their development, they will go down. Those are the decisions we’re going to have to make weekly.”
Here were the Flyers’ forward combinations at practice Friday, via jersey colors. This, of course, could very well change some more before opening night.
Joel Farabee, Sean Couturier, Bobby Brink
Scott Laughton, Noah Cates, Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, Cam Atkinson, Tyson Foerster
Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway, Wade Allison
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