The Philadelphia Flyers
' quest for a goaltender has apparently come to an end.
The Flyers announced Wednesday they have re-signed Michael Leighton
to a two-year, $3.1 million contract, bringing back the player who backstopped the team for most of its run to the Stanley Cup Final, and giving him a chance to again be the team's full-time No. 1 goaltender.
"I wanted to get a deal done here, and it was kind of up to them whether they wanted to re-sign me," Leighton said during a conference call to announce the deal.
"I'm very pleased with the way things went and obviously I'm pleased they wanted me back because this is where I wanted to be."
Veteran backup Brian Boucher
has one-year left on his deal, but the team had shown interest in bringing in another netminder through free agency. The team already has spoken to San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov
and Dallas' Marty Turco
, but the Leighton signing could preclude them as options. Less expensive choices could be St. Louis' Chris Mason
, as well as a pair of former Flyers -- Tampa Bay's Antero Niittymaki
and the New York Islanders
' Martin Biron
"We are pleased to have Michael under contract for the next two seasons," GM Paul Holmgren
said in a statement. "Michael came to our team in December last year and played extremely well for us in the regular season and the playoffs. Michael is an athletic goalie who we feel is just coming into his own as an NHL goaltender and we look forward to Michael building on the level of play he established this past season."
Leighton's arrival on waivers from Carolina in December sparked their recovery from the Eastern Conference basement, going 16-5-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average. He was in goal for the final 2 1/2 games of the Flyers' historic comeback from down 0-3 in the second round against Boston, and had three shutouts in four wins against Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, he was pulled twice during the six-game Cup Final against the Chicago, and allowed Patrick Kane
's sharp-angle goal in overtime of Game 6 to give the series to the Blackhawks.
"For me, I just think I fit well with this team," Leighton said. "The success we had this year, I think this is a great team again. We're going to be pretty similar to where we were last year. I'm confident we're going to have a good season and whether it's me starting or not, I want to win a Stanley Cup one day and I think this is my best shot at winning one, whether it's on the bench or playing."
In addition to Leighton and Boucher, rookie Johan Backlund
signed a two-year deal a week after the season ended, and the club is very high on him for the future.
"I want a chance to start," Leighton said. "Whether they go out and get another goalie, that doesn't change my mindset. I'm just going to go out and play my best and try to earn that spot."