Flyers extend Leighton's stint in AHL

YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: December 07, 2010

The Flyers' crowded goalie situation will have to be resolved at a later date.

That was the news delivered Monday when the Flyers said goalie Michael Leighton would go back to the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms for two more rehabilitation games. The NHL granted the Flyers a rehab extension on Monday afternoon.

In two games with the Phantoms last weekend, Leighton was 0-2 with a 3.55 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage.

"In my opinion, he still needs more work," general manager Paul Holmgren said in a conference call with reporters. Holmgren added that the goalie's surgically repaired back had healed, but his left leg was "an issue."

Leighton, last season's waiver-wire wonder, said he had pain in the lower part of his leg extending to the top of his foot, and that it limits his comfort level in the net.

"I have to get to the point where I think I can perform my best in the NHL, instead of just being OK in the AHL," Leighton said.

Holmgren said there is a chance Leighton will remain on the long-term injured reserve list when his two-game stint is over. The Phantoms play games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Leighton had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on Oct. 11. At the time, he was projected to miss six to eight weeks.

When Leighton is ready to return to the Flyers, Holmgren did not rule out carrying three goalies for a short time because he said he was "a little leery" of Leighton's physical condition and might want "an insurance policy."

To fit Leighton and his $1.55 million cap hit under the salary cap, the Flyers would have to make a roster move. Among the possibilities is putting Ian Laperriere or Matt Walker on the long-term injured list. If the Flyers went with two goalies, they might try to send Brian Boucher through waivers and to the Phantoms.

A year ago, Leighton went 16-5-2 with a 2.48 GAA and .918 save percentage after the Flyers claimed him on reentry waivers from Carolina on Dec. 15.

He later returned from an ankle injury and played the final 21/2 games of the Flyers' historic comeback against Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In the conference finals against Montreal, Leighton got the attention of the hockey world, posting a 1.40 GAA, a .950 save percentage and three shutouts. Leighton became the first Flyer to notch consecutive playoff shutouts since Bernie Parent in 1975.

But Leighton struggled in the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago, becoming the first goalie to be pulled from two Finals games since 1991. He allowed two soft goals in the decisive sixth game, and he finished that series with a 3.96 GAA and .873 save percentage.

After last season, Leighton was awarded a two-year contract that totaled $3.1 million. Leighton passed an end-of-season physical before signing the contract.

In July, shortly after he signed his deal, Leighton complained about a back issue and the Flyers sent him for an exam. An MRI at the time did not show any damage, Holmgren said earlier this season.

But during the Flyers' training camp, Leighton began experiencing pain, especially after a game against Toronto. New tests showed Leighton had a herniated disk that would require surgery, starting the 6-foot-3, 186-pound goalie on a long journey to recovery.

With the 29-year-old Leighton sidelined, the Flyers took a chance on rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been arguably the surprise story in the NHL during the season's first two months. Bobrovsky, 22, is among the league leaders in several categories, and his strong play has sparked the Flyers into a tie for the NHL's best point total.

Breakaways. The Flyers are $855,000 under the $59.4 million salary cap, assistant GM Barry Hanrahan said. . . . The Flyers will try to extend their winning streak to three games when they host San Jose on Wednesday. Fans will be given replica Parent banners.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|