The Chicago Blackhawks and goaltender Michael Leighton have come full-circle in his life cycle as a professional hockey player. After drafting Leighton in the sixth round of the 1999 NHL draft, Leighton and the team agreed on a one-year deal on Monday.
The team announced the move Monday.
Leighton, a 33-year-old goaltender, comes back to the NHL after spending last season with Donbass Donetsk in the KHL. It was a highly successful season for Leighton and his team, as he was part of a goaltending crew that set the tea record for fewest goals allowed in a regular season.
Personally, Leighton had a bit of a career resurgence, going tied for third in the league with 20 regular-season wins, seventh with a 1.74 GAA and ninth with a .934 save percentage.
In his first stint with the Blackhawks, Leighton became an answer to a trivia question as he was the first rookie goaltender to post a shutout in franchise history—doing so on Jan 8, 2003 versus Arizona (who were the Phoenix Coyotes).
Before heading to the KHL, Leighton spent the majority of his career playing in the American Hockey League, suiting up for six teams from 2001 to 2013. He was named the AHL’s “Baz Bastien Memorial Award” winner as the league’s best goaltender and named to the First All-Star Team during the 2007-08 season.
However, he could never stick in the NHL, despite playing parts of two seasons with the Blackhawks and appearing in 42 games during his first stint with the club.
Leighton joins current goaltenders Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta on the roster for the 2014-15 season.