Former top goaltending prospect Leland Irving will play in North America once again this season, signing an AHL contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 29-year old Irving spent last season playing in Finland, where he recorded a .923 save percentage. He’ll have to battle with Phantoms’ incumbents Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz (when healthy) for playing time, but definitely brings some experience to the role.
Irving was selected 26th-overall in the 2006 draft and was seen as one of the next big goaltending prospects. The team that selected him, Calgary, would watch him struggle to find consistency at the professional level and despite giving him a shot in the NHL eventually have to move on. Part of the reason he never got much of a shot in the NHL was Miikka Kiprusoff’s existence as one of the best in the league, but he would eventually head to Europe to get a chance to play full-time.
Two years ago he returned to play for the Iowa Wild and put up a solid season, and should do the same to help the Phantoms follow up on their 48-23-5 season from a year ago. Even at 29, he’ll add to what is some of the best minor league goaltending depth in the league.