The Chicago Blackhawks, parent club of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, announced today that they have agreed to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton on a one-year contract.
Leighton, 33, has posted 35 wins (35-41-14), a 2.97 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 105 career regular-season NHL games over parts of eight seasons with the Blackhawks (2002-04), Nashville (2006-07), Philadelphia (2006-07; 2009-13) and Carolina (2007-09). He has notched an 8-4 record in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games and currently holds the NHL record for most shutouts in a postseason series (3 vs. MTL in 2010 Eastern Conference Final).
Leighton, originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the sixth round (165th overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in 42 contests over two seasons with the club during his NHL debut, collecting eight wins (8-21-10), a 2.81 GAA and a .901 save percentage. He was the franchise’s first goaltender to post a shutout in his NHL debut after doing so on Jan. 8, 2003 vs. Phoenix.
The Petrolia, Ont., native spent last season with the KHL’s Donbass Donetsk, where he was part of a goaltending tandem that set a team record for fewest goals allowed during the regular season. Leighton, who helped the club reach the second round of the playoffs, shared third in the league with 20 regular-season wins, ranked seventh with a 1.74 GAA and ninth with a .934 save percentage.
Leighton has starred in the AHL over parts of 10 seasons, appearing in 354 games with Norfolk, Rochester, Portland, Philadelphia/Adirondack and Albany. His career record of 171-144-29 places him 17th all-time in victories, and he ranks tied for fourth in AHL history with 36 career shutouts, trailing only AHL Hall of Famers Johnny Bower (45), Gil Mayer (41) and Bobby Perreault (37).
Leighton was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2001-02, and won the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2007-08. Leighton also played in the AHL All-Star Classic in 2002, 2008 and 2012.
In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Leighton owns the AHL records for saves in a single game (98, in a five-overtime loss on Apr. 24, 2008) and for lowest GAA in a single postseason (1.18, in 2008).