The Philadelphia Flyers have made a couple of under the radar signings this offseason. One of their most quiet signings happened in the early stages of free agency. The Flyers’ re-signed goaltender, Michael Leighton to be the back up net minder this season. Though it was not a key move, the signing is a low-risk but high-reward type of contract.
Think of it from this point of view. Last season, Ilya Bryzgalov struggled a bit but, at times he was also brilliant. When Bryzgalov was signed to a nine year contract, many Flyers’ fans thought that they would finally be getting the goaltender who would lead them back to the Stanley Cup and possibly deliver the Flyers to the promised land. Though Bryzgalov matched his goals against average (GAA) with 2.48 from a season ago, his performance was not enough for the Philadelphia faithful.
If Bryzgalov begins to struggle this season or goes down with an injury, Leighton could be the key to the Flyers’ success or their demise. When Leighton took over in net during the 2009-2010 season, he lead them to the Stanley Cup. His GAA was 2.48, which is identical to Bryzgalov’s from a season ago. His playoff GAA was a bit lower at 2.46.
The Flyers made it to the finals but lost. Leighton went into the playoffs hot, but it was due to the fact that he was prepared to play. Leighton will need to be taking extra work in the season and either before or after practice. If Bryzgalov knows that there is a goalie who could be ready to play and take his job from him during the season, then it could cause a ripple effect and could make Bryzgalov put up numbers like he did in March where he was literally brilliant.
If Bryzgalov gets injured or begins the season in a slump and Leighton continues to develop, then the re-signing of Leighton could prove to be a key for the Flyers’ 2012-2013 season.
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