I posted this on Monday, and sure enough one of the scenarios for the Flyers this off-season is beginning to unfold.¬† The Flyers announced today they have extended a two-year, $3.1 million contract to Stanley Cup Finals goaltender Michael Leighton.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to come back to the Flyers organization for two more years‚Ä¶ 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 stated.
Before elaborating on what this move means come tomorrow, there‚Äôs something that needs to be said about Michael Leighton.¬† Nobody, including the Flyers organization, is trying to build Leighton into a messiah goaltender that is guaranteed to be our starter.¬† This should be obvious based on the contract we extended; he‚Äôs going to have the same salary cap hit that goaltender Ray Emery commanded this past season.¬†¬† I keep hearing about how the Flyers won‚Äôt make the playoffs with Leighton in net, or how Homer doesn‚Äôt know what he‚Äôs doing.
I‚Äôm a bit embarrassed for the fanbase, honestly, when they don‚Äôt consider the fact that Leighton is the reason we even had the chance to get to the playoffs this year.¬† That‚Äôs not to knock goaltender Brian Boucher‚Äôs play during the season;¬† statistically, he played very well, but got zero support.¬† Everyone that watched the Flyers make it to game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, for the first time in 13 years, needs to acknowledge that Michael Leighton had a hand in that.¬† To not give him any credit is a disservice, especially when you consider that he could easily have turned this run into a larger contract elsewhere but opted to stay.
NHL free agency begins tomorrow at noon.¬† There are two schools of thought that the Flyers organization will pursue:
- Sign an established #1 goaltender at a reasonable salary cap and trade or waive Brian Boucher, with Leighton as back-up
- Sign one #1 defenseman (re: Anton Volchenkov) and an established secondary defenseman to bolster the defense in front of your starter, Michael Leighton
In any event, this signing is reasonable.¬† It gives the Flyers breathing room to make the right signings at the right price.¬† There is also no indication that Leighton‚Äôs contract has a no-trade clause, so consider this:¬† If Team X has a property we want and is at the bottom of the NHL rankings come December, does Michael Leighton serve as trade bait?