The Flyers have waived goaltender Michael Leighton, general manager Paul Holmgren announced.
Leighton, one of the heroes of the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring, played in only one game for the Flyers this season. He allowed four goals and stopped 30 shots in a 7-4 win over the Kings last week.
"I'm happy to get in and get a win," Leighton said after the game. "I'm not happy with the way that I played, but I am happy with a win."
Leighton signed a 2-year, $3.1 million contract extension on the eve of free agency but had a herniated disk in his back surgically repaired on Oct. 11 and first returned to practice on Nov. 20 before completing two rehab stints with the Phantoms in early December.
Holmgren talked to the media today about waiving Leighton.
"We thought about it the last few days. At the end of the day, I think that this is a move that is in the best interest of the Flyers and the best interest of Michael Leighton," Holmgren said. "We need to get him playing at a higher level. More than anything, he is probably still in training-camp mode."
Holmgren was asked if Leighton was waived based on the Kings' game. "We probably all believed he'd be a little rusty," Holmgren said. "This is more to do with how the other guys have played. At the end of the day, it's best for the organization."
On interest in Leighton around the league?
"I'd be very disappointed if he were claimed, because that means we'd be losing a goalie for nothing," Holmgren said.
Holmgren was asked about the risk of losing Leighton, if he clears, on re-entry waivers for half price?
"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Holmgren said. "We will look at other teams and their injuries and goaltending issues. There is always risk involved."
Is there a trade possibility for Leighton? "We talked around. There was nothing there."
Was the excellent play of Brian Boucher making this decision a difficult one?
"Brian's played extremely well," Holmgren said. "Really, he's carried over to this year the way he finished last year. He's had a great attitude. He's been the consummate pro. We're hoping that he can continue to play at the level he's at and that will continue to allow Sergei [Bobrovsky] to develop. This will continue to let everyone work on their game."
Upon his return, Leighton acknowledged that he is still not 100 percent while experiencing foot numbness stemming from the nerve in his back. He also conceded that he did not expect to be 100 percent at any point this season but thought he could work around that.
He was 17-9-2 in the regular season last year and 8-3 in the playoffs with a .916 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average.
The decision means the Flyers will move forward with Boucher, who has been getting the bulk of the work recently, and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has struggled recently after a hot start.
To read our earlier post with a roundup of other Flyers issues, click here.
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