David Leggio has played 59 games this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks coach Cassidy says goalie Leggio should be considered for AHL MVP

BUFFALO – In 28-year-old No. 1 David Leggio, the Rochester Americans possess one of the AHL’s best goalies, a workhorse interim coach Chadd Cassidy thinks should be considered for the AHL’s MVP award.

But following the Sabres’ deadline trade with Minnesota last Wednesday, the Amerks received Matt Hackett, a strong prospect with NHL experience and three seasons as an AHL starter. The 23-year-old made 39 saves in a 3-2 shootout win Sunday, his first start.

Cassidy called his team’s current goalie setup “an interesting situation.”

Leggio will remain the top goalie, though.

Cassidy said he told Hackett “our team had been together for the entire season.”

“If the situation were reversed, no one would want to lose their net to a new guy coming in,” Cassidy said by phone Wednesday. “I don’t think it was fair to David and it wasn’t fair to our team.”

The Amerks have three stretches of three games in three days left.

“He’s certainly going to get opportunities, and we’ll see what that means going into the playoffs,” Cassidy said about Hackett.

Leggio, a Williamsville native, has already played 59 games, going 36-22-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

“There’s no question in my mind, and I bet you most of our players would tell you the same thing, that our team wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in right now, in terms of our playoff push and our seeding in the playoffs, if it wasn’t for David and his play throughout the course of the season,” Cassidy said.

Leggio’s sturdy play has helped the Amerks overcome injuries, recalls and games with shortened lineups, Cassidy said.

“If guys like David Leggio can help you get through that, it puts you in a position to still make the playoffs,” Cassidy said. “To me, that’s what your most valuable player is.”

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