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Leighton quite the buy for $11,250

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Leighton quite the buy for $11,250
The Flyers' waiver claim for goalie Michael Leighton cost them $11,250. Call it money well spent.
What can you buy for $11,250?

You can get 22 iPads ($499); 37 Reebok Edge authentic third jerseys at Shop.NHL.com ($299.99); or 70 GameCenter Live subscriptions if you live in the U.S. ($159).

And, if you're the Philadelphia Flyers, you can get one season-saving puckstopper.

For the low, low price of an $11,250 waiver claim, the Flyers were able to snare Michael Leighton from the Carolina Hurricanes, and the rest -- well, like the advertisements say, history has been made.

Leighton started the season as the backup to Cam Ward in Carolina. When Ward suffered a severe cut to his leg during a game Nov. 7, Leighton and Manny Legace split time in goal. When Ward returned in early December, however, the Hurricanes could only keep one of them to serve as backup. So on Dec. 9, the decision was made to keep Legace and waive Leighton, with the hope he could be assigned to the team's AHL affiliate in Albany

At the same time, however, the Flyers ran into their own goalie issues. Starter Ray Emery was diagnosed with a torn abdominal muscle that would need surgery. The goalie-thin Flyers had just one other experienced goaltender in the organization, Brian Boucher, and wanted more security behind him. That's when Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren found Leighton.

The move wasn't seen as much more than a stopgap until Emery returned. It was Leighton's second time with the club, as the Flyers had picked Leighton up on waivers from Nashville on Jan. 11, 2007. Leighton went 2-2-0 with a 3.69 goals-against average and .882 save percentage then, and expectations weren't for much more if he would be forced into action.

Instead, more bad luck struck the Flyers as Boucher suffered a hand injury during a game against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 21. That left Leighton to enter the fray for a team that already had changed coaches and was in a 2-8-0 skid.

However, Leighton saved the day, backstopping four-straight wins as the Flyers began to resurrect their season. In a 25-game span between Dec. 23 and March 14, Leighton went 16-5-2 with a 2.41 goals-against average, and the Flyers went 21-10-2 to climb from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to a playoff spot.

Then disaster struck, as Leighton stumbled making a save March 16 against the Nashville Predators and suffered a high left ankle sprain. It appeared both his season and the team's playoff hopes would be lost as the Flyers won just two of their next eight games and fell into a dogfight for one of the final playoff spots in the conference.

The Flyers did, however, make the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, and they cruised past the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs, with Boucher's stellar play stealing the headlines.

Leighton was healing, however, and was cleared to play in time for Game 5 of the second round against the Boston Bruins. That day, he dressed as the backup to Boucher.

The timing couldn't have been any better if a Pulitzer Prize winner had scripted it. In the second period, with the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead in a series they trailed 3-1, two players fell on Boucher, with the goalie's left leg getting pinned underneath him. Boucher was knocked out of the game with a sprained knee ligament, and Leighton -- who hadn't played in a game in nearly two months, was pressed into action.

All Leighton did was combine with Boucher on the first shared playoff shutout since 1955, make 30 saves in a Game 6 victory, and then, after allowing three goals in the first period of Game 7, shut down the Bruins over the final two periods as the Flyers became the third team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 0-3.

Leighton's remarkable play has carried over to the conference finals, with back-to-back shutouts. Going back to that historic Game 7 against the Bruins, Leighton hasn't allowed a goal in more than eight periods -- a total of 165:50.

Now, for the bargain price of $11,250, the Flyers are two wins from the Stanley Cup Final.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp