Michael Leighton

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Penguins add depth with Leighton, Oleksiak acquisitions

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The Pittsburgh Penguins just got a little bigger on their backend.

The Penguins announced they struck a deal with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring 6-foo-7 defenseman Jamie Oleksiak for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019.

The trade comes on the heels of the Penguins making an odd move earlier in the day after acquiring goaltender Michael Leighton and a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, goaltender Sean McGuire and a sixth-round draft pick in 2019.

Oleksiak, who has just three points in 21 games this season, hasn’t played since Dec. 9. It will be interesting to see where he fits in, if he does at all immediately.

One report suggests the Penguins had been interested in Oleksiak’s services for a while, and that the deal came together pretty quickly.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that a ‘major trade’ could happen if the Penguins continue to struggle.

Pittsburgh dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday and sit outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re coming into a critical period where we’ll make a decision whether we need to shake things up or not,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last Wednesday. “We’re good enough to be better than we’re doing. Hopefully, that’s the way it goes here in the next little while. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that a major trade would come out of this.”

The Penguins have two fourth-round picks in 2019 at the moment and the Stars will get whichever one is higher, according to Shapiro.

Meanwhile, Leighton was sent down to Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Matt Murray is back to full health with the Penguins and Tristan Jarry has been phenomenal as a backup (and starter) when called upon.

It’s been an interesting season for Leighton, who will join his third NHL team after previously being with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leighton is on a two-way deal with $650,000 at the NHL level and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Leighton has played in just seven NHL games over the past seven seasons and unless the Penguins want to give Jarry more playing time in the AHL, it seems unfathomable that he’d become the backup going forward.

Archibald, meanwhile, will stay up with the Coyotes after the club announced that Dylan Strome was being sent back to the AHL following the trade. McGuire has been assigned to the Coyotes ECHL affiliate.

Also, in case you’re wondering about the NHL’s roster freeze and what it all means, CapFriendly sent out a helpful tweet to explain.

Blackhawks plan on keeping Darling in the mix

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The Chicago Blackhawks wealth in goal has been well documented this season.

While starter Corey Crawford was sidelined both Antti Raanta and Scott Darling stepped in and proved to be NHL-ready netminders.

Raanta is 7-3-0 with a 1.87 G.A.A. and a .939 save percentage this season while Darling is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 G.A.A. and a .937 save percentage.

Darling has spent a bulk of the season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs where he has an 11-6-2 record to go along with a 2.13 G.A.A. and a .931 save percentage.

“I think you need that,” general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If you look around the league, the majority of teams have used three goalies this year. There’s only a couple teams that are just going with their two.

“That’s an area we haven’t had a lot of depth in in the past, and we got through it. But in the future, we’d like to have three goalies that you know can play in the NHL. It’s worked out great this year, and even Michael Leighton’s been dynamite in Rockford, so we really have four goalies that could easily come and play on any night.”

With the trade deadline fast approaching and Darling a pending restricted free agent, Bowman has no intention to use Darling as an asset in a trade.

“He’s a Chicago kid, I know he wants to be with us,” Bowman said. “We’ll get that worked out. I think it’s nice to see that our hopes for him ended up playing out the way we had hoped.”

Leighton, a pending unrestricted free agent, is 3-0-2 with a 0.89 G.A.A. and a .974 save percentage this month with the IceHogs.

Blackhawks assign Regin, Leighton to AHL

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Both Michael Leighton and Peter Regin cleared waivers on Sunday and are off to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League according to Chris Kuc.

Regin, 28, split last season between the Blackhawks and Islanders.

The center suited up in 44 games for New York scoring two goals and seven points.

Regin was dealt to the Blackhawks along with Pierre-Marc Bouchard on Feb. 6 along with a fourth-round pick in 2014.

In 17 games for the Blackhawks last season Regin scored two goals and four points.

Leighton, originally a sixth round pick of the Blackhawks in 1999, spent last season in the KHL where he posted a 20-15-6 record.

According to Kuc, the Blackhawks roster is now down to 27 players.

Teams have to be down to the 23 man roster by 5pm eastern time on Oct. 7.

Veteran goalie Leighton off to KHL

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The NHL won’t have Michael Leighton to kick around this season.

The former Flyers and, more recently, Blue Jackets goalie is off to the KHL to play for Donbass Donetsk in the Ukraine according to the team’s website.

Leighton is best known as the goalie who helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, but his career since then has seen him battle injury, bouts in the AHL and a trade to Columbus last season.

Last season, he played in just one game for the Flyers and was bombed on for five goals allowed in a loss to Tampa Bay. With Donbass, he’ll get to suit up with former Flyers teammates Ruslan Fedotenko and Oskars Bartulis.

Columbus signs a goalie…but it’s not Bobrovsky

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have addressed their goaltending situation for 2013-14, though it’s not in the manner many were expecting.

With the Sergei Bobrovsky negotiations at a standstill, the Jackets inked journeyman Curtis McElhinney to a one-year, one-way deal.

“Curtis is a solid pro who was one of the best goaltenders in the American Hockey League this past season” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekelainen said in a release. “He is a veteran goaltender with NHL experience and we believe he’s earned the opportunity to be a part of our team in 2013-14.”

McElhinney, 30, spent last year with Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Springfield, posting a 29-16-3 record with a 2.32 GAA and .923 save percentage — and a franchise-record nine shutouts.

He spent time with the Calgary, Anaheim, Ottawa and Phoenix organizations before joining Columbus, and has appeared in 69 career NHL contests.

Now, this move is interesting because McElhinney was given a one-way deal, according to the Columbus Dispatch. (The Dispatch also reports it’s a $600,000 salary.)

That all but ensures he’ll be the BJ’s backup next season, a role that was filled by Steve Mason last season (until he was shipped to Philadelphia at the deadline), then Michael Leighton (who didn’t play a single game).

The move also comes on the same day when a report surfaced, claiming that KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg was preparing to make a big money offer for Bobrovsky’s services.

(Image courtesy Springfield Falcons)