Leighton Good, But Not Good Enough

Philadelphia Flyers 29 year-old journeyman goaltender, Michael Leighton, did more than was expected of him on this marvelous playoff run into the Stanley Cup Final. After all, he was scooped up off re-entry waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes back in December after the team lost starting goaltender, Ray Emery.

It is hard to put the entire blame for the Flyers losing the Stanley Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, but Leighton was looked upon to steal at least one or maybe even two games of that hard fought series and he wasn’t able deliver.

Both Leighton and Hawks’ goalie, Antti Niemi allowed some questionable goals. The trouble was, in the end, Leighton, allowed more than Niemi.

The ending to this Stanley Cup Final brings back memories of another tough ending for a Philly team, the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. Pitcher, Mitch Williams, surrendered a World Series losing home run to the Toronto Blue Jays’, Joe Carter. People in Philly are now comparing the goal that was surrendered by, Leighton, in overtime to, Patrick Kane that ended the Flyers’ season to the home run ball that was served up by Mitch Williams.

Philadelphia Flyers’ G.M., Paul Holmgren, would not commit when asked yesterday about whether Leighton would be back next season as starting goalie.

The Flyers players went on record yesterday in support of their goaltender, stating that they want him back for next season.

Leighton said yesterday that his first option would be to stay with the Flyers, but as a number one goalie. Meaning, that he will be looking for a hefty raise. A raise not likely to be granted by the Flyers organization.

Goaltending has been the Achilles heel of the Philadelphia Flyers Franchise since way back in the mid 80’s and the Ron Hextall era. The Flyers continue to go through numerous goaltenders, year in and year out. The answer has still yet to be found.

A source that is close to the Flyers organization has said that the team just isn’t serious when it comes to drafting for that position. And that goalies are a dime a dozen so they would rather draft other positions.

The Flyers did sign highly touted 21 year-Old Russian League netminder Sergei Bobrovsky back in May. It was reported that he was also being scouted by the Detroit Red Wings.

David Strehle of NHLHotStove.com reported the following on Bobrovsky…

Bobrovsky compiled a 16-42-5 record over the course of two seasons with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, which was the worst team in the league. Bobrovsky faced a high number of quality shots every night, but had a decent goals-against-average of 2.63, and an excellent .923 save percentage for the combined two seasons.

During the 2007-08 season the young prospect was invited to join Russia’s U 20 team that competed in the Super Series against the Canadian teams. There, Bobrovsky was clearly Russia’s best goalie, outperforming now Washington Capitals goalie, Semen Varlamov.

Rumors also abound that Flyers’ G.M. Paul Holmgren is pursuing Montreal Canadiens’ former starting goalie, Carey Price. Price is a restricted free agent this year along with the man who took his job, Jaroslav Halak. Halak is likely to be re-signed after guiding the Canadiens to playoff upsets of both at the time, defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the league’s President’s Trophy winning, Washington Capitals.

If Price is the target of Holmgren and the Flyers, the team had better move quickly because, new Tampa Bay Lightning G.M. Steve Yzerman is also reportedly pursuing either Price or Halak.

The Flyers will likely need to free up some cap space before bringing in a top goaltender. The most likely to not be back next year wearing the orange and black other than Leighton is Jeff Carter.

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