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Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Utica Comets Sign 37-Year-Old Michael Leighton To PTO, Release Alex Sakellaropoulos

Comets Sign Leighton To PTO

The Utica Comets announced this morning that they have signed netminder Michael Leighton to a PTO, (professional tryout offer) and that they have released goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos from his.

Sakellaropoulos has been with the club since Thatcher Demko was summoned by the parent Canucks, but did not play any minutes for the team.

In Leighton, the Comets are getting a goaltender who is long on experience, but does not have that NHL deal that would allow the parent Canucks to recall him to Vancouver should one of Demko or Jacob Markstrom suffer an injury. It is possible that Leighton could still earn that two-way deal with the Canucks, though I’m not sure how likely that is.

Leighton has suited up for eight NHL clubs since the start of the 2002/2003 season, some of those clubs saw him for more than one stint as well. He has also suited up for no fewer than 11 AHL teams and one KHL team for good measure.

Leighton’s most recent club has been the Ontario Reign, with whom he has appeared in three games this season, posting a goals-against average of 4.46 and a save percentage of 0.859% in one win and one loss. Last season was split between three clubs, playing in nine games with the Syracuse Crunch, five with the Chicago Wolves, and six with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.  His most recent NHL action was in the 2016/17 season when he played in four games with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Leighton has been around long enough to have been a former teammate of Comets boss, Robert Esche. He will provide the Comets with some veteran experience while the Canucks work to find a better fit who can go up and down between the two clubs if needed.

The Comets are back in action on Wednesday, January, 16th when the Syracuse Crunch is back in town for game number 43 of the season. As always, CanucksArmy will have your Pre-Game and Post-Game reports on game day.

 

  • I’m going to venture a guess that is Leighton looks good enough, he’ll be signed to an AHL contract and only get a 2-way NHL contract if Markstrom or Demko gets hurt.

  • I think if he’s NOT signed to an NHL deal, then the Canucks can call up DiPietro on an emergency basis if Demko/Markstrom are injured. So that would be cool too.

  • Complete trainwreck in Utica since Benning bungled the Demko call up and saw McKenna picked up by the Flyers. Now it’s a game of goalie musical chairs on the Titanic’s sister ship!

    The idea of having an AHL club is to nurture and grow the prospects together as a team into legit NHLers ala Pittsburgh, Toronto and Washington, not sign up any non starter or old fossil who can still carry a goalie stick for no end product. Unbelievable.

    No wonder we can’t get close to a Calder Cup or Stanley Cup with these joke franchises under Benning. Why do we even bother to support this sh*t show.

  • I’ve said before it’s far more important to draft goaltenders than you think, given the in-net debacle of Utica this season. How many guys have been signed, injured, released, suited up for and played for the Comets in goal in 18-19? I hope Benning learns from this and I’d try and draft goalies every season if applicable. He does have a lot of 6th round picks this year so he should at least consider it. Don’t like seeing this mess on the farm too much.

    • With Demko ready moving Nilsson was executed to receive something/anything back for him.
      McKenna and Leighton are/were simply insurance placeholders as the goaltender free agency market is said to be plentiful this coming off season.

      • Yes, though unless Bachman isn’t ready to go by the fall they are only placeholders for this season. The plan for next season appears pretty clearly to be NHL-Markstrom and Demko; AHL-Bachman and DiPietro; ECHL-Kulbakov or another youngster, probably on an AHL contract.

    • How many guys have been signed, injured, released, suited up for and played for the Comets in goal in 18-19?

      Played for the Comets? Three: Kulbakov (who was signed in the summer), Demko (who was injured out of camp for two months), and Bachman (who is injured). They signed Sakellaropoulos on a PTO to backup for a week, and now have Leighton on a PTO.

      They lost McKenna on waivers (Toronto lost both AHL goalies to waivers out of camp!). Calling it a debacle is …. opinionated.

      As for drafting goalies to solve such a problem ….. nonsense. The Canucks have drafted three goalies in the last 5 drafts. You may have heard of DiPietro ….apparently he was in Vancouver over the new year. They have Thiessen in the USHL and NCAA next year.

      You do not draft goalies to expressly play in the AHL or ECHL …. you sign vets or undrafted free agents. The problem will sort itself out with either Leighton (or another guy)…. or a surplus goalie being waived and claimed once the NHL goalie returns from injury.

    • Uh, a goaltender every year? No thanks. They make up around 10% of a roster, so around 10% of a team’s picks should be goalies. And out of around 30 picks in 5 drafts, Benning has taken 3 of them. Perfect.

      Yes, there’s a bit of a bind now, but taking a goalie every year is killling a fly with a sledgehammer.

      With a 6th round pick, you’re typically getting an ECHL-grade goalie anyway, so that’s not any improvement on what Utica has today.

      What they should have done, with Bachman being injured, is have Ottawa waive McKenna and only made the deal if he passed through.

      Hopefully Philly waives him and the Canucks are the only team that claim… then they can send him straight down.

      • And there’s no point in drafting so many goalies that some of your prospects are backing up in the ECHL… which is probably what would have been happening if the Canucks had taken goalies in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

        No goalies in 2019, then they should use a high pick on one in 2020 or 2021.