The Carolina Hurricanes made an interesting roster decision Monday and later an eyebrow-raising lineup change for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After placing goaltender Michael Leighton on waivers, the Canes made captain Rod Brind'Amour a healthy scratch for the game against the Stanley Cup champions.
With goaltender Cam Ward due to return from injury this week, likely Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils, the Canes had the decision of carrying either Leighton or Manny Legace as the backup goalie. Legace, who started against the Penguins, was the winner on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks and has earned the confidence of management and the coaching staff.
NHL teams have until noon today to claim Leighton off waivers. If there is no taker, the Hurricanes have a 30-day window in which they can again place him on waivers or reassign him to the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League.
"We've identified Manny as being ahead of Michael," general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday. "That's our decision for now, but we will deal with this on a week-to-week basis and see where this is going.
"Michael has played some good games for us. From a team viewpoint, he has not gotten a lot of help. Both goalies have given us some good games with Cam out."
The Brind'Amour scratch was a bigger surprise. While his ice time has dwindled in recent games and his offensive production has been negligible, Brind'Amour had not missed a game this season and has not been a healthy extra for a game since being traded to Carolina from the Philadelphia Flyers in January 2000.
The Hurricanes had 13 healthy forwards with the return of Jussi Jokinen, who missed the Vancouver game with an injury.
Leighton, 28, is in the final year of a one-way contract that pays him $600,000 at the NHL level or at the AHL level.
Ward has been sidelined since Nov. 7, when he suffered a leg laceration against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Hurricanes signed Legace to a two-way contract after Ward's injury that pays him $500,000 at the NHL level or $105,000 at the AHL level.
The Hurricanes on Monday recalled defenseman Brett Carson from Albany to replace injured defenseman Niclas Wallin for the Penguins game.
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