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Unexpected injury forces Flyers to keep Johansen on NHL roster

Ryan Johansen Colorado Avalanche Ryan Johansen - The Canadian Press

An unexpected injury has forced the Philadelphia Flyers to keep Ryan Johansen on their roster, despite waiving him immediately after he was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the lead up to the trade deadline.

The Avalanche traded Johansen and his $4 million cap hit in the trade for cap flexibility as the team acquired defenceman Sean Walker from Philadelphia for a first-round pick. Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said after the deal that Johansen was not expected to play for the NHL club, but the team has been unable to assign him to the AHL since due to the injury.

“He claimed to be injured when we traded for him, so we had him see the doctors,” Briere told Philly Hockey Now. “They found an injury, so now he’s going to be rehabbing. You can’t send down a player who’s injured, so he’s going to be doing rehab until… we don’t know when.

“That’s about all I can say at this time, or all that I have. So, he’s back on our roster doing rehab and trying to get better.”

Johansen has 13 goals and 23 points in 63 games this season, all with the Avalanche. He last played on March 4, two days before the trade, logging 10:58 of ice time against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Keeping Johansen on the NHL roster has left the Flyers in a cap crunch, with the team currently owning less than $600,000 in space, per CapFriendly.

The 31-year-old is in the seventh season of an eight-year, $64 million contract with an average annual value of $8 million, though the Nashville Predators retained half of that in last year's trade with Colorado.

Following the March 6 trade, Briere declined to say why Johansen would not be part of the Flyers moving forward.

“I can’t really go into that at this point,” Briere said. “We have a different vision at this point. That’s about all I can say.”

Selected fourth overall in 2010 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Johansen played 38 games under now-Flyers head coach John Tortorella in the 2015-16 season for Columbus before being traded to Nashville. It's been speculated the relationship between the two led to the decision to send Johansen to the AHL.

“I don’t know. As far as I know, I haven’t heard of any communication between Ryan and John,” Briere added to Philly Hockey Now when asked if the two had spoken. “I don’t know for sure; they could have been talking to each other. But as far as I know, no, there hasn’t been any discussion.”