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January 16, 2006 - Primeau may stay on injured reserve

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Primeau may stay on injured reserve

His health, the Flyers' needs and salary-cap ramifications are factors in the team's next move.

By Tim Panaccio
Inquirer Staff Writer

Flyers general manager Bob Clarke has not ruled out the possibility of keeping center Keith Primeau on injured reserve through the remainder of the regular season in an effort to clear up his post-concussion symptoms by the playoffs.

Primeau earns $3,166,000 this season against the league's $39 million salary cap. If he remains on injured reserve through the remainder of the season, the Flyers would have approximately $2.8 million against the cap to sign another player.

"Yeah, we might be forced to do that," Clarke said. "But if Keith can play, we'd rather have him. We want to give him every chance to come back and play. But if we can't, then we have to use his money to find someone else."

They could decide to obtain a player such as St. Louis center Doug Weight by the March 9 trade deadline.

Sources in the league say that Weight would be the Flyers' primary target. He is earning $5.7 million this season, and his cap number at the trade deadline would be $1,085,364.

At this time, the Flyers are technically over the salary cap by about $200,000 because of injuries. They have been forced to call up Phantoms players and keep them with the NHL club for practices. So they still will have to shed some salary.

Once the regular season ends, NHL teams can have as many players as they wish on their rosters. There is no salary cap in the postseason.

Clarke said once the Olympics have ended next month, he will make a decision on Primeau.

"He's progressing," Clarke said. "I think once we get past the Olympic break, we have to see. There is always the scare that he goes back out and plays a couple of games and he's back in the same situation [with concussion symptoms]. We have not set a date, but there has to be a time when we say, 'Keith, we need your money to go get another player.' We'll wait as long as we can."

Clarke said he cannot go into the postseason without another big power forward.

Primeau has missed 36 games resulting from an illegal blow to the head by Montreal's Alexander Perezhogin on Oct. 25. There was no call on the play.

"Look, that is a big hole," Clarke said. "He has been a huge loss for us. I don't think [the trade possibility] is necessarily a center man as much as getting a good forward, a top-end guy, if we can get it. It's easy to say but hard to do."

Loose pucks. Colorado's Alex Tanguay scored the game-winner in overtime against the Flyers on Saturday. This is what he said about former linemate Peter Forsberg: "He's a great player. We knew that. We gave him opportunities. Obviously, when you give a team like this that many power plays with the skills they have up front, they are going to get the job done eventually."... Flyers prospect Steve Downie, who plays for Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League, has been suspended for five games. Downie attacked Belleville captain Andrew Gibbons during the final five minutes of a game.