The Philadelphia Flyers have announced that they have re-signed Michael Leighton to a two-year, $3.1 million contract extension.
Leighton, who was claimed off waivers by the Flyers, was instrumental in the team's playoff run, a run which saw Leighton post a record of 9-1-1 in his first 11 playoff games and take the Flyers to within two games of winning the Stanley Cup.
While many Philadelphia fans have been chomping at the bit for general manager Paul Holmgren to bring in a “money” goaltender, it would appear as if his attempts to get Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov under contract and/or trade for Jaroslav Halak were thwarted, which left Holmgren with few options via the free agent market.
Truth be told (and I have been writing this for months now), all Leighton has done since he donned the Orange and Black is win.
His stellar 16-5-2 record, 2.48 goals against average, and .918 save percentage during the 2009-10 regular season was the main reason the Flyers even made the playoffs, while his playoff record speaks for itself (14-8-3, 2.46 GAA and .916 save percentage with three shutouts).
Sure, Leighton rarely steals games and he is not one to send you home thinking you just watched a Vezina Trophy winner. But he does give the Flyers a chance to win every night—something the Flyers have lack between the pipes since the days of Ron Hextall.
Leighton may not have been Flyers' fans first choice, but given the price tag and the fact that the Flyers have several goaltending prospects within the organization (mainly Johan Backlund), the terms and the money involved in the Leighton deal make sense.
If Holmgren had signed the likes of Nabokov (thought to be seeking $5 million per), the likelihood of keeping all their forwards in the fold would have been slim, which may have meant parting with the likes of Jeff Carter—something many Flyers fans were hesitant to do.
While Leighton appears to be the Flyers number one guy, there is always the possibility that Holmgren could elect to send veteran goaltender Brian Boucher down to the minors with an eye on bringing in another goaltender. But at this point, that seems unlikely.
Overall, the Leighton signing is a good move for the Flyers. I, for one, am a believer in “Leights” and have always felt that he deserved a shot to lead this Flyers team for an entire season.
Good on ya Mr. Holmgren...Leighton will play hard for you and, it says here, you will not regret this signing.