Hurricanes sign Michael Leighton, who will act as a ‘valuable mentor’ with prospect goalies

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The Carolina Hurricanes, for right now anyway, may be set in goal at the NHL level with Eddie Lack and Cam Ward, but on Wednesday they added some professional experience to their minor league system.

The club announced it signed 35-year-old goalie Michael Leighton to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000 at the NHL level. Last season with the Rockford IceHogs, he posted a 28-8-8 record and a .918 save percentage.

Leighton joins the Hurricanes organization with 106 games of NHL experience, posting a career record of 35-41-10-4 and a save percentage of .901, and almost 300 regular season games in the American Hockey League.

Carolina wanted a veteran puck stopper in the minors, especially with prospect Alex Nedeljkovic, the team’s second-round pick, 37th overall, from the 2014 draft, looking to make the jump from juniors to the pro game.

“Michael is a veteran player who gives our organization reliable depth in goal,” said Hurricanes GM Ron Francis in a statement. “He is a true professional who also will serve as a valuable mentor for the young goaltenders in our system.”

Signed to a three-year entry-level deal in March of 2015, Nedeljkovic has played three games in the ECHL for the Florida Everblades, while splitting his final year of junior in 2015-16 with the Flint Firebirds and Niagara IceDogs, and he would likely need more seasoning down in the minors.

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