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Goalie Michael Leighton Re-Signed by Philadelphia Flyers to Two-Year Deal

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on before Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bob CunninghamSenior Analyst IJuly 1, 2010

In a move that likely means the Flyers have resigned themselves to the fact that they won't be getting a veteran goalie this offseason, they have resigned former waiver-wire pickup Michael Leighton to a two-year deal.

The deal is worth a total of $3.1 million, with $1.5 million coming next season, and the remaining $1.6 million coming the season after.

"We are pleased to have Michael under contract for the next two seasons,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “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."

To me, it sounds like Holmgren is basically saying Leighton is going to be the guy next year. Fans who were expecting the team to make a run for a proven starter are going to be disappointed, but this move makes sense on a few different levels.

For instance, if they do go after a starter, they still would need a backup. The money they gave Leighton is a bit high for a backup, but he's shown he can fill in when needed and do a very good job.

In fact, during his time with the Flyers after being picked up from the Carolina Hurricanes in December, Leighton posted a 16-5-2 record with 2.48 goals against and a .918 save percentage.

Also, the cap hit is slight. He will cost them $1.55 million against the cap in both seasons of the deal, which gives them just over $9 million still to work with this season
money they're going to need if they want to sign a couple free agents and keep some of their own guys like Braydon Coburn and Arron Asham.

Then there's the obvious reason: Holmgren sees Leighton as a guy who will progress into a starting-caliber goalie whom they can rely on for 82 games rather than as just a part-time player.

Whether that will happen or not is debatable, but they'll never know if they don't give him an opportunity to build off an impressive and unexpected 2010 season.

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