With a little less than 24 hours until he would have hit the open market, the Flyers locked up goaltender Michael Leighton to a two-year contract extension.
The deal was first reported by Rogers SportsNet in Canada.
Leighton, 29, will earn $1.5 million this season and $1.6 million next season. His cap hit will be split down the middle between both years at $1.55 million per season.
Either way, it’s a big hike from the $600,000 that Leighton earned last year between the Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes – and keeps him in Philadelphia.
“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.”
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to come back to the Flyers organization for two more years,” said Leighton. “It was my intention all along. This is what I wanted. I really enjoy playing here, my teammates, the organization and the fans are so passionate. I just think it is a good fit for me.”
Leighton posted a 16-5-2 record and a 2.48 goals against average with the Flyers after being picked up from the Hurricanes in December.
At an average of $1.55 million, Leighton could still play the role of backup with the Flyers next season – perhaps pushing current backup Brian Boucher down to the AHL. Boucher has one more year left at $900,000.
The Flyers will still explore any starting goaltender queries when free agency opens tomorrow at noon. Evgeni Nabokov, Marty Turco, Chris Mason, Dan Ellis, Marty Biron and Antero Nittymaki are just a few of the unrestricted free agent goaltenders that could be available.
With approximately $9.1 million left in salary cap room, including both Leighton and Boucher, the Flyers still need to sign two forwards and two defensemen.
Here are the players under contract for next season:
James van Riemsdyk
Restricted free agents:
Unrestricted free agents:
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