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Has Ryan Johansen Played His Final Game In The NHL?



Ryan Johansen
Photo of Ryan Johansen by John Russell/Nashville Predators

This morning as the Philadelphia Flyers had their season-ending press conference, general manager Daniel Briere told reporters some surprising news relating to former Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen.

According to Philly Hockey Now‘s Jon Bailey, Briere thinks Johansen may have played his last game in the NHL.

“All I can tell you is I don’t expect him to be back,” Briere said. “I don’t know, exactly, the situation. We’re dealing on the medical side with him. The thing for him is getting him back to be able to play at this time. He doesn’t think he can play hockey. I wish I had a better answer for you. We need to get him better to figure out if there’s even a remote chance of him dressing for the organization.”

The specifics of Johansen’s injury have been shrouded in mystery and controversy since the Flyers acquired him in a surprising trade-deadline move on March 6. Johansen’s injury came to the forefront of conversation when the Flyers immediately attempted to send the former No. 4 overall pick to their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, upon acquiring him but couldn’t do so because of his injury status.

Weeks ago, we broke down the potential scenarios involving Johansen and his contract and how his current situation could impact the $4 million in salary the Predators retained when they offloaded him last summer, especially if the Flyers were to buyout Johansen’s final year in the summer of 2024.

Unfortunately for the Predators and Flyers, but rightfully so for Johansen and other players, teams not only cannot assign injured players to the minors, they also can’t buyout injured players either.

The most likely remedy at this point, assuming all else remains equal and Briere’s assumption that Johansen can no longer play due to injury, is that the Flyers place Johansen on long-term injured reserve to receive whereby the Predators would remain on the hook for Johansen’s remaining $4 million. An LTIR designation does nothing for a team that is retaining salary on a player. 

When a player legitimately retires, they forfeit the remainder of their contract and the team is off the hook for the remainder. In short, it’s a mutual contract termination. This is rare and would make little sense from a business perspective on the player’s part. The more likely scenario is that player retires on LTIR whereby he receives the remainder of the contract, the team receives cap relief to some extent, and the actual money paid is primarily covered through insurance as opposed from the team’s coffers.

If Johansen can no longer play due to injury, he would collect a check for his final contract year while the Flyers and Predators would remain responsible for the outstanding salary cap hit and salary. 

Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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