Goaltender Michael Leighton is the latest NHLer to sign a contract overseas with a Kontinental Hockey League club.
Leighton, an unrestricted free agent most recently under contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, inked a one-year contract with Donbass Donetsk, the only professional Ukrainian hockey club competing at an elite international level. The deal was first reported Monday by The Fourth Period.
The 32-year-old Leighton was acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 3, along with a third-round draft pick, from the Philadelphia Flyers for goaltender Steve Mason. But with Vezina champ Sergei Bobrovsky set to log the bulk of Columbus’s starts in 2013-14 and Curtis McElhinney slated as the team’s backup, Leighton had slid off the depth chart.
Donbass terminated netminder Chris Holt’s contract to clear a space on its roster for Leighton, who surrendered five goals and lost his only game with the Flyers in 2012-13. Leighton saw no ice time with the Jackets.
Leighton leaves the NHL having registered a 35-41-4 record with a 2.97 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage in 105 career games with the Flyers, Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes.
The Petrolia, Ont., native peaked with a 2010 Stanley Cup final appearance, going 8-3 with three shutouts during the Flyers’ run to the championship series.