Someone, somewhere, likely has a long-forsaken number 49 Carolina Hurricanes sweater hanging in a closet, purchased long before Victor Rask even moved to North America, that hasn’t been touched in many years. Friend, go try that sweater on and run it through the washing machine, because today is your lucky day.
The Canes today signed Michael Leighton to a one-year deal that will pay him $700,000 in the NHL or $250,000 in the AHL this season. Leighton spent parts of three seasons with the Canes, leaving in 2009 when the Philadelphia Flyers claimed him off waivers. All he did the rest of the season was lead the Flyers to within two wins of the Stanley Cup.
Leighton spent the next six seasons mostly in minor league hockey, making cameo appearances in two games with the Flyers and spending a season with Donbass of the KHL, which I mention here solely to include what may be my favorite tweet of all time:
Love there's a KHL team called "Donbass." 1st, b/c Don Bass sounds like a Ford dealership. 2nd, b/c I'll never not read it as "HC Dumbass"— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 5, 2012
Leighton will give the Checkers goaltending cover behind presumed goaltending tandem Alex Nedeljkovic and Daniel Altshuller, after losing Rasmus Tirronen to the Finnish league over the offseason.
The press release from the team is below.
HURRICANES, LEIGHTON AGREE TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
Veteran goaltender spent parts of three seasons with Carolina from 2007-09
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay Leighton $700,000 on the NHL level, or $250,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level for the 2016-17 season.
"Michael is a veteran player who gives our organization reliable depth in goal," said Francis. "He is a true professional who also will serve as a valuable mentor for the young goaltenders in our system."
Leighton, 35, posted a 28-8-8 record, a 2.44 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 46 games with the Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs in 2015-16. The Petrolia, Ont., native became the AHL’s all-time shutouts leader, surpassing Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bower’s six-decades-old AHL record when he earned his 46th career AHL shutout against Lake Erie on March 5. Earlier in the season, he became the 13th goaltender in AHL history to earn 200 wins when he backstopped the IceHogs to a 5-2 win at Iowa on Nov. 13. Leighton tied an AHL career high with 28 wins last season, and backstopped the Central Division to its win at the 2016 AHL All-Star Challenge, marking his fourth career AHL All-Star appearance. Following the season, he was named the recipient of the AHL’s 2015-16 President’s Award for his outstanding accomplishments during the season. He played in one game in relief for the Blackhawks in 2015-16, allowing one goal in 39 minutes of work against Dallas on March 22.
A 15-year pro, Leighton made his NHL debut with Chicago on Jan. 8, 2003. He spent parts of three seasons with Carolina from 2007-09, posting an 8-12-2 record and a 3.20 goals-against average in 29 games played. Leighton (6’3", 186 lbs.) played in 14 of Philadelphia’s 23 playoff games in 2010, and earned an 8-3 postseason record before the Flyers fell in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to Chicago. He has played in 106 career NHL regular-season games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina, earning a 35-41-14 record, a 2.96 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. The Blackhawks drafted Leighton in the sixth round, 165th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.