From Stanley Cup Finals to the waiver wire.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced on Monday that goaltender Michael Leighton has been placed on waivers, months after helping Philadelphia reach its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1993.
Leighton, 29, who was signed to a fresh two-year, $3.1 million deal in the offseason, began the 2010-11 season on injured reserve with a severe back injury (bulging disc). That, along with the introduction of prospect Sergei Bobrovsky, left the 10-year journeyman as the odd-man out. The move will free up a much-needed $1.55 on the salary cap.
The Flyers are now primed to head into the second half of the season with the goaltending duo of 22-year-old Bobrovsky and 34-year-old Brian Boucher, who have both been capable. Bobrovsky, holding a 15-6-3 record and 2.57 GAA, has been a revelation for the typically goaltender-less Flyers, while Boucher, 8-4-2, 2.33 GAA, has been the steady mentor, cleaning up when Bobrovsky spills.
After spending half the season working his way back into the lineup, Leighton received his first start of the season on Dec. 30. Despite a shaky outing, he walked away with the 7-4 win. Prior to that, Leighton’s last start was in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in early June, when he gave up a soft overtime goal to Chicago’s Patrick Kane, leaving a lasting and bitter impression with Flyers fans.
Although the NHL is overflowing with mediocre goaltending talent, Leighton, a proven backup, may not make it far through waivers. The New York Islanders, who recently traded away Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay, may take a swipe at Leighton to back up the oft-injured Rick DiPietro.