Judgment day looms: Michael Leighton's back on the ice

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09: Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers stands on the ice during warm-ups before Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

News that goaltender Michael Leighton worked out with the team yesterday in Raleigh is obviously good . Any time a player that just signed a two-year contract with your club over the summer returns from an unexpected injury, it's a good thing.

But not every Flyers fan is going to agree with that. Not with the way Sergei Bobrovsky's played so far this season. (By the way, Bob will get his eighth straight start tonight against the Hurricanes.)

It appears that Leighton could be back within the next couple of weeks, so it begs the question: what the hell are the Flyers going to do in goal once Leighton returns? We've all tried to avoid the idea like the plague. Now it's time to talk about it.

There are obviously a few solutions to the problem, but none of them are really all that comfortable.

The first option - perhaps, the easiest option - would be to send Bobrovsky down to the Adirondack Phantoms. It's not like that's an easy choice, though. In terms of personnel, it's easier to send down Bob than it would be to send down Leighton or Brian Boucher, simply because Bob is waiver exempt while the others are not.

But is his exempt status enough to overrule the fact that he's cemented himself as the Flyers starter in Leighton's absence? He's pushed himself right past Boucher on the depth chart and in the eyes of 95 percent of the fan base. In the eyes of most of us, Bobrovsky is the clear-cut number one. That's beyond Boosh and even beyond Leighton.

It's obviously an uncomfortable proposition to send Bob down at this point, however. One look at the current disarray in Glens Falls is enough of a reason to keep him in the NHL, really, and that's without even taking into account that he's flat out earned the right to stay in Philadelphia.

Fans would riot if Bob were sent down, anyway. I think it's safe to say that the option is off the table. So what other solutions do we have?

Well, the Flyers could keep three goalies on the roster, but in all honesty, that would be dumber than sending Bobrovsky down. It's pretty rare that a team carries three goaltenders (because it's absurd to waste a roster spot like that), even though the Flyers and Paul Holmgren did at least contemplate the notion for a bit last season.

The other options: get rid of either Boucher or Leighton. There's no guarantee that either player would clear waivers, but it's not like it's a certainty that either player could be claimed. It would all depend on timing, I think.

Most teams are pretty set on the goaltending front, but who knows what can happen when it comes to injuries. A team might wind up needing a nice backup goaltender like Boucher, or, another team might like to take a chance on a guy like Leighton. You just never know.

So you could either take a chance on losing one of those guys permanently by placing them on waivers in hopes of sending them to Adirondack, or you could try to trade one of them and get some kind of menial return for them -- I'd expect a mid-round draft pick or something. Nothing exciting, for sure.

Assuming you're successfully able to get rid of one of those guys, though, there are cons even after you've decided which of the two to get rid of. If you dump Boucher, you've got an automatic goalie controversy. Do you throw Leighton in right away because he's "the guy" you signed to the "big" contract over the summer, or do you ride Bobrovsky because he's hot?

If you dump Leighton, you save a bit of money, but you also risk throwing everything behind Bobrovsky. Let's be honest here: Bob's been fantastic and we shouldn't expect much less than that after the way he's performed and behaved, but we're only a month into the season. What if he falters? Boucher becomes your starter, and as capable as he has proven to be, are we comfortable with that again?

See where we're going here? Lots of questions, not many answers. Luckily, we just get to talk about them and have opinions on them. The Flyers actually have to answer them.

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