A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my friends at Eyecandyair informing me that they recently had the pleasure of airbrushing a new mask for River Rats goalie, Michael Leighton. Strange thing about this mask though. There isn't much, if anything about Albany on it.
Since this is a relatively new mask and it's covered with Hurricanes related design, one might think that Leighton has moving to Raleigh on his mind. I know several Caniacs who have been thinking along the same lines.
The Carolina "prospect" has certainly made a name for himself in the AHL this year. He has the lowest goals against average, best save percentage, and most shutouts in the entire league. He was recently named to the first AHL All-Star team and is a leading candidate for league MVP.
While it seems like a no-brainer that he would be with the big club next year, there might be a couple of complications. Leighton is an unrestricted free agent this off-season, and could garner some serious interest from other clubs. The Canes will probably be strapped for cash and might not want to enter a bidding war for his services.
Leighton might also be at the point in his career where he wants a legitimate shot at being a number one goalie in the NHL. Then again, he might be perfectly satisfied with a chance to earn his playing time behind, or alongside Cam Ward, who has been somewhat inconsistent the past couple of years.
We will have to see how this plays out, but one thing is for sure. I would bet the farm that there will be a new back-up for Cam Ward next season.
Thanks again Steph, of Eyecandyair for the heads up! Steve Nash is a talented artist who airbrushes masks for several goalies in the NHL, including Cam Ward. Check out more of his stuff here.