The decision had to be made sooner than later. One of the three goalies had to go. The longer that a team carries this many netminders, the more it starts to affect them – no one can get into a proper level of rhythm and comfort.
The odd man out was Michael Leighton.
“It’s very difficult with three goalies in a practice situation,” said Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren. “Somebody is always getting the short end of the stick.”
The tandem of Bobrovsky and Boucher carried this team to first place in the East, sometimes even standing atop the NHL as a whole.
“Brian Boucher’s played extremely well right now, and so has Sergei Bobrovsky,” Paul Holmgren said in today’s conference call. “We expect them to continue to play well, and we need to get Michael playing at the level he can play at.”
If the Flyers were to wait around, giving each of the three enough playing time in the coming weeks to see who truly deserved to be sent back down to the minors, Leighton might have had a chance to prove himself and secure a spot. But as it stands, the team has to come to a decision, and the smartest move is to stick with the two that got you to this point.
Yesterday’s announcement that the Tampa Bay Lightning traded for the Islanders’ goaltender Dwayne Roloson may have factored into the decision as well, with one less team likely in the market for a goaltender and one less team that may pick Leighton up off the waiver wire. Word is that the Flyers took a look – how long or hard of one is unkown – at moving Leighton via a trade. Perhaps Tampa Bay would have been the team, and that’s why Holmgren is comfortable with sending Leighton through the waiver wire.
If either Bobrovsky or Boucher goes down with injury, however, it will be a risky move to bring Leighton back up – team’s can claim a player off of re-entry waivers at half price, with the original team continuing to pay half of their contract.
Should the team in front of them keep playing the way they’ve proven they can, and health permitting, Bobrovsky and Boucher should have no trouble backstopping this team to another playoff run.