PITTSBURGH - Flyers goalie Michael Leighton continues to make progress since undergoing back surgery on Oct. 11, and Saturday he will be on the ice for the first time since the operation.

Leighton traveled to Pittsburgh to be with his father, Terry, as part of the Flyers' father-son bonding trip this weekend.

"I'm going on the ice Saturday to skate around and see what I can do," Leighton said after watching the Flyers' morning skate Friday.

Leighton said he was doing "a lot of core workouts, and it's feeling pretty good. I just have to give it some more time and let it heal up. There's still a lot of things I can't do, but the things I can do I'm doing at almost 100 percent. It's feeling pretty good."

His original goal was to return in about six weeks after the surgery. That would be Nov. 22 against visiting Montreal.

"It depends on how things go after I get on the ice," he said. "The doctor said after a certain time, they'll give me the OK to start doing everything - butterflying (dropping to his knees on low shots), going down. When I start doing that stuff and feeling good, they'll probably give me the OK to start playing."

Leighton's father watched proudly as his son had a breakout year and helped the Flyers get within two wins of the Stanley Cup last season.

"It's something everyone hopes for ever since they start playing - to get to the Stanley Cup Finals," said Terry Leighton, an Ontario resident and a supervisor at an oil company. "It was a dream come true."

The elder Leighton was on two father-son bonding trips with Carolina when Michael played with the Hurricanes. This was his first trip with the Flyers.

"It's great to be . . . with the guys you met," he said. "We had a good chance to have dinner and share a few laughs and old-time jokes."

Emery update

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery told ESPN.com he will skate next week for the first time since career-threatening hip surgery last spring. The complex operation involved having a bone grafted from his lower leg and inserted into his hip.

"Usually when you have this type of thing done, they just want you to walk again," Emery said.

But Emery, a free agent who started his grueling rehab sessions six weeks ago, said he had not abandoned hope of returning to the NHL. Emery said the earliest he thought he would be ready to play would be "maybe January."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has left the door open for Emery.

"I'd say he's an NHL longshot this year," Holmgren told The Inquirer on Friday, adding that, provided Emery is healthy, the Flyers might be interested in "putting him somewhere [in the minors] and seeing how he does."

Emery had a 2.64 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage last season, his only year with the Flyers.


Enigmatic winger Nik Zherdev was scratched from Friday's lineup. . . . Entering Friday, Scott Hartnell led the NHL with 39 penalty minutes. Hartnell also led the Flyers with 18 hits, just ahead of Andrej Meszaros (17). Kimmo Timonen was tied for 15th in the NHL with 21 blocked shots. . . . Holmgren has had talks with the agents for Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, and Ville Leino, three potential free agents after the season. . . . About 350 tickets remain for Saturday, when the Flyers host the surprising Islanders. Fans are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, and they can register for a costume contest before the game at the Broad Street Atrium. There will be trick-or-treating in the concourse.

- Sam Carchidi