– Ron Francis
, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton
on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Leighton $700,000 on the NHL level, or $250,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level for the 2016-17 season.
“Michael is a veteran player who gives our organization reliable depth in goal,” said Francis. “He is a true professional who also will serve as a valuable mentor for the young goaltenders in our system.”
Leighton, 35, posted a 28-8-8 record, a 2.44 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 46 games with the Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs in 2015-16. The Petrolia, Ont., native became the AHL’s all-time shutouts leader, surpassing Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bower’s six-decades-old AHL record when he earned his 46th career AHL shutout against Lake Erie on March 5. Earlier in the season, he became the 13th goaltender in AHL history to earn 200 wins when he backstopped the IceHogs to a 5-2 win at Iowa on Nov. 13. Leighton tied an AHL career high with 28 wins last season, and backstopped the Central Division to its win at the 2016 AHL All-Star Challenge, marking his fourth career AHL All-Star appearance. Following the season, he was named the recipient of the AHL’s 2015-16 President’s Award for his outstanding accomplishments during the season. He played in one game in relief for the Blackhawks in 2015-16, allowing one goal in 39 minutes of work against Dallas on March 22.
A 15-year pro, Leighton made his NHL debut with Chicago on Jan. 8, 2003. He spent parts of three seasons with Carolina from 2007-09, posting an 8-12-2 record and a 3.20 goals-against average in 29 games played. Leighton (6’3”, 186 lbs.) played in 14 of Philadelphia’s 23 playoff games in 2010, and earned an 8-3 postseason record before the Flyers fell in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to Chicago. He has played in 106 career NHL regular-season games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina, earning a 35-41-14 record, a 2.96 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. The Blackhawks drafted Leighton in the sixth round, 165th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.