Hurricanes sign veteran goaltender Leighton to 1-year deal

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes agreed to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton on a one-year, two-way contract, as announced by the team on Wednesday.

The deal will pay Leighton $700,000 at the National Hockey League (NHL) level, or $250,000 at the American Hockey League (AHL) level for the 2016-17 season.

“Michael is a veteran player who gives our organization reliable depth in goal,” executive vice president and general manager Ron Francis said.

“He is a true professional who also will serve as a valuable mentor for the young goaltenders in our system.”

During the 2015-2016 season, the 35-year old Leighton posted several career and league milestones to go along with a 28-8-8 record, 2.44 goals-against average, and a .918 save percentage in 46 games played with the Chicago Blackhawk’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

As a result, he was named the recipient of the AHL’s President’s Award for his outstanding accomplishments during the season.

Leighton posted his 200th career win, a 5-2 result at Iowa on Nov. 13, 2015, and became the 13th goaltender in AHL history to do so.

He eventually became the AHL’s all-time shutout leader, surpassing Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bower’s six-decades-old AHL record, when he earned his 46th against Lake Erie back on Mar. 5.

Leighton also tied an AHL career high with 28 wins, and backstopped the Central Division to its win at the 2016 AHL All-Star Challenge, highlighting his fourth career AHL All-Star appearance.

He played in one NHL game in relief for the Blackhawks, allowing one goal in 39 minutes of work against Dallas on Mar. 22.

A 15-year pro, Leighton made his NHL debut with Chicago on Jan. 8, 2003, after being selected in the sixth round (165th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

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 then 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.

Overall, 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.