The NHL still has to approve, but the Flyers have applied for a two-day extension on Michael Leighton's AHL conditioning loan. The move allows them to keep Leighton on long-term injured reserve, or LTIR, for two more AHL games. Paul Holmgren announced this on a conference call with reporters Monday, meaning that he's probably pretty confident the NHL will approve the extension. Why go to the media with it if you're not confident?
For the NHL to approve things, they have to believe that the Flyers are keeping Leighton with the Phantoms because he's not 100 percent ready to return to NHL action. Holmgren said that Leighton's back is fine, but that he's having issues with his leg as related to the back injury. For the record, Leighton told us in Atlantic City on Sunday night that he felt fine and ready to go. He changed his tune a bit on today's conference call, saying that he's "probably" not at top gear.
If the NHL agrees to the extension, which the Flyers had to file with the League in writing this morning, Leighton will be allowed to stay on LTIR and with the Phantoms on his conditioning loan through next Saturday. The Phantoms next two games are on Friday and Saturday, and we expect Leighton will start both.
By next Sunday, however, the Flyers will have to make a decision one way or the other. Section 13.9 of the CBA does not allow for a second extension. Now, given today's developments, he must come off LTIR on Sunday. No more stalling.
Holmgren added, according to reporters, that he'll likely carry three goaltenders for a short time once Leighton returns next week. What's that mean? Basically, it means that a goalie move -- trading or waiving one of Brian Boucher or Leighton -- won't be the move that happens next weekend. Expect some other move, perhaps the waiving of injured defenseman Matt Walker, to happen next Sunday. The Flyers could also opt to send Walker or Ian Laperriere to LTIR, but as we've already been over, that's not an ideal move.
Be sure to follow all the folks on our Flyers Twitter list, who provided live updates of Holmgren's conference call today.