Although the Hurricanes placed goaltender Michael Leighton on waivers today, General Manager Jim Rutherford said the team has yet to make a final decision on who will become the team’s backup goaltender.
The Canes will have to choose between Leighton and Manny Legace for the spot if Cam Ward returns from a leg injury as expected on Wednesday. However, Rutherford said that a reassignment of either goaltender to Albany was not imminent, even though the team favors Legace at this point.
“We haven’t made a decision. We’ll take it a step at a time,” said Rutherford. “At this point in time, we’ve identified Manny ahead of Michael, and that’s the way we’ll go for now.”
If Leighton clears waivers on Tuesday at noon, the Canes would then have 30 days to reassign him without having to place him on waivers again. Rutherford indicated today that he intends to use that window to further evaluate the position.
“Cam is coming off an injury where he’s been off for a long time, and we’ll have to see how long it takes him to be comfortable again,” said Rutherford. “I wouldn’t think that we would reassign (Leighton) immediately.”
Legace won the team’s most recent game against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, making 33 saves and helping to hold off a third-period rally by the visitors. Since joining the team on November 9, he’s received credit for three of the team’s four victories.
“He’s played some good games for us,” said Rutherford of Legace. “He’s made a difference and has even been picked as a star in a couple of games that we’ve lost.”
If the Canes do eventually reassign a goaltender to Albany, Leighton would be a more expensive choice as the team would still have to pay him his full NHL salary. Legace would earn considerably less at the AHL level due to his two-way contract.
Rutherford said that Niclas Wallin will not play tonight at Pittsburgh, paving the way for Brett Carson to make his season debut on defense. He also said that Jussi Jokinen will be in the lineup, and that Coach Paul Maurice would need to make one forward a healthy scratch.