It’s a nice problem to have if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve got a goalie right now that’s ascended to stardom by taking the starting job for himself in Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky got the opportunity to take the starting job when assumed starting goalie Michael Leighton missed the start of the season thanks to back surgery. Bobrovsky won the starting job in the meantime over Brian Boucher but now that Leighton is back on the ice and resuming normal activities, who stays and who is going to end up going through all this? Chuck Gormley of Flyers Files took a look at the situation and offered up his take on things.
Leighton has been practicing on his own for two weeks and is close to being given medical clearance to practice all-out with the club. Boucher has played well in his backup role this season (1-2-1, 2.26 GAA) but has not been given a start since Oct. 25. The simplest solution would be to send Leighton to the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment since he has not been in game action since a preseason game on Sept. 24.
If nothing else, that would bide the Flyers another week or so. But once all three goalies are healthy, look for Boucher to pass through waivers, at least on the way down to the minors. It is entirely possible that when and if the Flyers decide to call up Boucher, he’ll be reclaimed by another team at the half-price rate of $462,500. Boucher is in the final year of his two-year contract with the Flyers and would like to earn himself one more two-year deal in the NHL.
Leighton, on the other hand, signed a two-year, $3.1 million contract and is far less attractive at that price tag.
Indeed, a goalie with a wonky back and a somewhat stiff price tag doesn’t really motivate anyone to want to make a move for them. Leighton will get his chances to win his spot in the lineup as, at least a backup to Bobrovsky. That said, Bobrovsky is in sore need of a breather after starting the last 11 Flyers games. Brian Boucher, you’d think, will get another start soon and it’s not that he’s been bad this year, it’s just that he’s not starting goaltender material anymore.
Leighton proved himself towards the end of last season and again in the playoffs that he’s a very capable goalie. While he may not be the answer in goal, nor will he need to be now with Bobrovsky around, he’s a very good goalie to have around nonetheless as he proved last season when Ray Emery went down for the season. Leighton ascended to the starting job after Brian Boucher (and others) went down with injuries and willed the Flyers into the playoffs.
What this all means to me is that Brian Boucher had either start getting curious about real estate in Glens Falls, NY where the Flyers AHL affiliate plays. With Bobrovsky in control and Leighton on the way back and ready to take over the #1A/#2 spot in Philly, he’s the likely candidate to get squeezed out.