Leighton clears waivers; Pronger healing nicely

Michael Leighton cleared waivers Tuesday and will be sent to the Phantoms. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrien Veczan)

  Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton cleared waivers Tuesday _ even the goalie-needy Islanders passed on him _ and was sent to the AHL Phantoms.

  Leighton, 29, will probably never play for the Flyers again this season, because it is unlikely he would clear re-entry waivers _ and be available to teams for half the price.

   If Brian Boucher or Sergei Bobrovsky suffered an injury, the Flyers would probably recall Johan Backlund from the Phantoms.

   The Flyers claimed Leighton off re-entry waivers from Carolina last year and he helped rescue their season and lead them into the Stanley Cup Finals with three playoff shutouts against Montreal.

    Should the Flyers keep Leighton with the Phantoms the entire season, he would NOT have to clear re-entry waivers next year. In other words, he could return to the Flyers for the final year of his two-year deal.

   Boucher's contract ends after this season. But Boucher is playing like he deserves another contract.

   Stay tuned.

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     Winger Nik Zherdev apparently re-aggravated a leg injury and left Tuesday's practice early. He will be held out of Wednesday's practice and re-evaluated Thursday.

     It doesn't sound like he will play Thursday in New Jersey.

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    Assistant coach Kevin McCarthy briefly left practice after geting hit in the face with a puck. As McCarthy went to the locker room, the players tapped their sticks on the ice as a salute.

    McCarthy returned to the ice a few minutes later.

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    Defenseman Chris Pronger had a CAT scan Tuesday that showed his broken right foot was healing nicely, the Flyers said.

    Pronger is not expected to return to the lineup until late January.

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    To make room for Leighton, the Phantoms sent goalie Nic Riopel to the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors.   

    Riopel, 21, a fifth-round draft choice of the Flyers in 2009,  had been with the Phantoms since his callup from Greenville on Nov. 17. In 11 games, he was 3-7 with a 3.55 GAA and .874 save percentage.

   Leighton isn't expected to play for the Phantoms until this weekend.

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   For constant Flyers updates, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.

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