Report: Michael Leighton clears waivers, will play in AHL (for now)

It’s easy to empathize with Michael Leighton.

After all, it seems like he’s a victim of bad timing – or the eternal state of upheaval that is the Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie positions – more than anything else. After securing a new two-year, $3 million contract thanks to his stunning run to the Stanley Cup finals, the former Carolina Hurricanes product required off-season surgery in September.

That injury cleared the way for the unexpected rise of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who just recently seems to be on his way back to Earth (not surprisingly, this began around the time Chris Pronger went on the injured reserve). With a backup who ranges from passable to brilliant in Brian Boucher, the Flyers decided to place Leighton on waivers thanks to their perilous salary cap situation.

Tim Panaccio reports that the big goalie cleared waivers today while Sam Carchidi writes that he was seen “appearing upset” as he packed his bags, being that he is primed to join the the Adirondack Phantoms once again. Many thought that the New York Islanders would decide to pick him up on waivers after Rick DiPietro left Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames with an injury, but that did not come to pass.

Travis Hughes of the Flyers blog Broadstreet Hockey fills in the details regarding Leighton’s future (and lack thereof with Philadelphia).

Leighton will still get paid his full salary, but he’s removed from the Flyers’ capped payroll. With Erik Gustafsson back on the Phantoms, and assuming Leighton is officially assigned before 5 p.m. today, the Flyers are actually just barely under the salary cap by $4,262 per day, according to our Geoff Detweiler.

Leighton cannot be called up to the Flyers without being subject to re-entry waivers, which in a nutshell means he likely won’t ever be a Flyer again (until three seasons from now when the claim him on waivers again…). The only way, it seems, for him to make it back to the Flyers would be during training camp next year when waivers do not apply. That is, if he’s not traded or claimed in re-entry or retired because the Phantoms make him miserable before then.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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