The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled goaltender Michael Leighton from the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League.
Leighton must clear re-entry waivers to be able to re-join Philadelphia, the team he helped lead to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
If Leighton clears waivers, he would be eligible to play for Philadelphia in the postseason; however, he would be ineligible for playoff participation if claimed by another team. Also, if claimed the Flyers would be responsible for half of Leighton's salary for this season and next. He reportedly is due $1.6 million next season, the final season of the two-year deal he signed this past summer.
General Manager Paul Holmgren said the move was made to add depth behind Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher heading into the postseason. Holmgren said if Leighton clears waivers, he would like to see Leighton start either Friday's game against Buffalo Sabres or Saturday's season finale against the New York Islanders.
"You've got the same problems now or last week or next week," Holmgren told CSNPhilly.com regarding the timing of the move. "Any time you do it, he's going to go through re-entry. The idea now is to get him into one of the last two games."
After his magical run with Philadelphia last season, Leighton injured his back in the offseason and needed surgery in September. By the time he was healthy enough to play in December, Sergei Bobrovsky had emerged as a star. In Leighton's one NHL game this season, he allowed four goals on 36 shots in a 7-4 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 30. He was placed on waivers Jan. 3, and after going unclaimed, he was assigned to the AHL the next day.
Leighton went 14-12-3 in 30 games with the Phantoms, who have the second-fewest points in the AHL Eastern Conference, but his 2.22 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and five shutouts all ranked in the top six in the league.
Holmgren told the Courier-Post he's been happy with what he's seen from Leighton during the goaltender's time in the minors.
"I saw him a couple times earlier this season," he told the newspaper. "The team has played better and he's had a few shutouts lately. He needed to get his game in order and he's done that."
Leighton's arrival on waivers from Carolina in December 2009 started a run that saved Philadelphia's season. With starter Ray Emery out with an injury, he replaced an injured Boucher on Dec. 21 in Florida. At the time the Flyers were 14th in the Eastern Conference, but Leighton went 8-0-1 in his first 10 starts, and was 16-5-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 27 games to help the Flyers fly up the standings.
He suffered a sprained ankle against Nashville on March 16, but returned in time for Game 5 of the Flyers' conference semifinal series against the Boston Bruins. In his first appearance since getting hurt, he replaced an injured Boucher and stopped all 14 shots he faced to complete the 4-0 shutout. It was the first combined shutout in a playoff game since 1955.
Leighton backstopped the Flyers into the conference finals, where he shut out the Montreal Canadiens three times in the first four games to help the Flyers win their first conference title since 1997.
In the Stanley Cup Final, however, Leighton was not as sharp, getting pulled in Games 1 and 5 as the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.
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