LOS ANGELES CA - DECEMBER 30: Goaltender Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on during a breeak in the game with the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on December 30 2010 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Apparently, there have been no buyers for Michael Leighton. The Flyers have placed the goaltender on waivers today, likely with the intent of shipping him down to the Adirondack Phantoms. He's uh, familiar with this process, to say the least.
Everybody knew a goalie move had to be coming, but we all expected it to be a trade or something along those lines. We assumed that the Flyers wouldn't just waive either Leighton or Brian Boucher, thanks to the chance that either of those players could be picked off by another team for nothing.
After seeing one of the few teams with a need in goal, the Tampa Bay Lightning, trade for Dwayne Roloson over the weekend, it's possible they ran out of potential landing places for Leighton. Thus, he's on waivers, and the Flyers hope that he doesn't get claimed.
When Leighton is sent to the Phantoms or he's claimed), the Flyers will save $1.55 million against the salary cap, and perhaps more importantly, they'll only have two goaltenders, which is the right move for the team.
If he does get claimed, though, it wouldn't be the end of the world. He was injured before signing a two-year, $3.1 million deal, and the Flyers apparently failed to do their due research in discovering that injury, since they didn't discover it until training camp.
When he was out of the lineup during camp, it gave Sergei Bobrovsky the opportunity to grab the reins on the top spot. When Leighton returned from that injury recently, playing in his first and apparently only game last week in Los Angeles, he interrupted the tandem of Bobrovsky and Boucher that had been working so well.
It had been working so well that the Flyers are the best team in hockey today, and that's without Leighton. That's why this move makes so much sense. It's likely not about the recent results. Yes, Leighton looked horrible in the LA game, while Boucher looked fantastic against Detroit on Sunday. That's not what triggered this move.
Looking at Boucher's body of work, Bob's body of work, and the fact that the Flyers are the best team in hockey without Leighton has to be what spurned this move. Combine that with the fact that the team couldn't be happy that Leighton hid an injury from them at the start of this past offseason and that Boucher is a much better locker room guy/mentor to Bobrovsky than Leighton and, well... there you go.
There's always the risk now that if Leighton clears and goes to the Phantoms, that they have to recall him at some point should an injury occur to Boucher or Bobrovsky. If they need to recall him, he'll have to clear re-entry waivers, where he'll be available to any team at half price. The Flyers would have to pay that other half.
That's down the road, though, and the Flyers are right not to worry about that now. Getting down to a two-goalie system again is what's best for this year and beyond. This is the right move for that reason alone.