Author: Mike Halford

Michael Leighton, Chicago Blackhawks

‘Hawks sign No. 3 goalie Leighton to one-year extension


Just days after trading away Antti Raanta, the Chicago Blackhawks have shored up their goaltending by re-signing veteran Michael Leighton.

Per ESPN, it’s a two-way deal that pays $575,000 at the NHL level.

Leighton, 34, enjoyed a solid campaign with AHL Rockford last season, going 22-13-4 with a 2.26 GAA and .920 save percentage. He finished with five shutouts, led the team to the playoffs and was named the IceHogs’ MVP.

A veteran of over 100 career NHL games — and a Stanley Cup Final with Philadelphia, which he lost to the ‘Hawks — Leighton is now firmly entrenched as Chicago’s No. 3 netminder, behind Scott Darling and Corey Crawford.

Raanta, who at times served as Crawford’s backup with the ‘Hawks, was traded to the Rangers at the draft to fill Cam Talbot’s backup gig behind Henrik Lundqvist. Talbot was flipped to Edmonton.

Report: Isles, Hickey closing in three-year pact around $6.5M


Sounds as though the New York Islanders are close to a deal with pending RFA blueliner Thomas Hickey.

Per Newsday’s sources, the contract extension is believed to be of the three-year variety, with Hickey pulling down “in the range of” $6.5 million total — a cap hit of around $2.16M.

For Hickey, 26, it’s a nice bump from the $675,000 he netted annually on his last deal.

The former Kings first-rounder was claimed off waivers by the Isles prior to the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and has been a steady lineup presence ever since; he’s appeared in 82 and 81 games in consecutive seasons and both set and matched a career-high in points, with 22 each year.

Getting Hickey locked in was fairly important for the Isles, as they dealt away Griffin Reinhart at the draft and don’t expect to return Lubomir Visnovsky.

That puts Hickey in a top-six defensive group with Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Calvin De Haan and Brian Strait, with youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield looking to make the leap.

‘Canes re-sign Nestrasil: two years, $1.825 million

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings

Carolina has rewarded Andrej Nestrasil — claimed off waivers last year from Detroit — with a two-year deal worth $1.825 million.

Nestrasil, 24, will carry an average annual cap hit of $912,5000 and, per Carolina GM Ron Francis, will be paid $875,000 in 2015-16 and $950,000 in 2016-17.

“Andrej is a big body and a good fit for our team and what we’re trying to do,” Francis said in a statement. “He battled an injury last season, but proved he could produce offensively on the NHL level.”

The Czech forward was a good pickup for the ‘Canes last year. After floating in and out of the lineup with Detroit, Nestrasil became a pretty productive player in Carolina, scoring seven goals and 18 points in 41 games while averaging over 14 minutes per night.