From the waiver wire to the Stanley Cup Finals, there’s no question Michael Leighton was one of the big stories of this year’s playoffs…but what’s next for the 29-year-old?
ESPN reported on Friday that Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren isn’t ready to commit yet to the man who helped his club get within a couple of games of the big trophy.
Leighton had a 17-9-2 record this season (16-5-2 with the Flyers) and followed that up by going 8-3 in the playoffs (6-1 heading into the finals). Despite that, Holmgren would only say “I think we’ve got to be careful there in how we view him,” which is probably a pretty accurate statement.
When it comes to goalies, you’ve got to be very careful. There will be a lot of pressure from Flyers fans to resign Leighton, but there’s certainly no need to rush into calling him your number one, or even your number two for next year.
Some of his regular season stats were pretty good, especially considering he was plucked off waivers in December, but that .905 save percentage and 2.83 GAA should make you wonder a little.
If it were up to his teammates though, he’d definitely be back in the orange and black next season.
Captain Mike Richards told CSN-Philly last week that he’s fully confident in Leighton, saying:
“He played well, he carried us, he got us into the playoffs with the great stretches he had. And even in the playoffs, he was tremendous for us. I have a ton of respect for him…I’m fully confident that he’s going to be there next year, and I’m fully confident playing in front of him.”
Teammate Scott Hartnell, who put up nine points in the final series, had a simple answer when asked if he thought Leighton should be back:
“Look at his numbers.”
That’s just it though – he’s got 34 wins to his name in 103 starts since making his pro debut in the 2002-03 season. Surely the Flyers will be looking for a little more experience between the pipes for the upcoming campaign, don’t you think?
The only other goalie they’ve got under contract going into next season is Brian Boucher, who put up nine wins last season and went 6-6 in the playoffs before going down with an injury.
Leighton was a great story from the second half of the season all the way up to the Stanley Cup Finals, but it’s probably in the best interests of the Flyers to look elsewhere.
What do you think?