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Come On Over - Hurricanes Sign Leighton

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The Carolina Hurricanes signed goalie Michael Leighton to a two year, 1.2 million dollar contract yesterday, making Leighton the number one option to back up Carolina starter, Cam Ward. The 600K per year that the Canes have committed to this backup is 800K per year cheaper than what they were paying John Grahame previously.

Let's hope that Leighton has better success than Grahame did at the position.

Leighton had a record breaking year in Albany last season and posted an unbelievable save percentage of .968 during a 7 game playoff series against the Phantoms this past Spring. He was also named the AHL's goalie of the year.

While this signing is not a surprise, the amount that Leighton signed for does make one raise an eyebrow. It's not much more than ECHL goalie Daniel Manzato signed for just about a week ago. ($522,500). Although Manzato's contract is a 2-way deal, Leighton's will pay him the same amount whether he stays in the NHL or is sent back to Albany.

This gives the Hurricanes 4 goalies under contract so far for next season, Cam Ward and Mike Leighton to play in Raleigh, and Daniel Manzato and Justin Peters currently slated for Albany. LSB is reporting that 2003 draft pick Kevin Nastiuk will not be retained by the franchise.

Apparently, Leighton had been either planning or hoping to be re-signed by the Canes for some time. He had a new mask airbrushed by the same folk who do Cam Ward's masks, Eyecandyair. Back near the end of March, they were nice enough to email me a photo of it. (Thanks again Steph).

Caniacs can expect to see that mask in action at the RBC next season.

Shania Twain