RE 10-11: Nikolai Khabibulin

Nikolai Khabibulin’s future and “reasonable” are miles apart, and predicting how many games he’ll play is impossible. He could be in jail, he could be suspended, he could be injured.

Khabibulin could be healthy and play 60 games, but that is extremely doubtful. So I’m going to assume that injury or the legal system or the Bettman Ouija board robs him of significant time in 10-11.

  • Boxcars: 18gp, 3.03
  • SP: .909
  • W-L-T: 7-9-2
  • SP ahead of backup: .008
  • Caphit: $3,750,000 times 3 seasons
  1. What do these numbers tell us? He was injured early and the Oilers didn’t have a veteran option. When he was healthy, Khabibulin was below average in the goalie department. He was poor in October (.905SP) but was winning (6-5-1). In November NK improved (.915) but the team couldn’t cover the tilted-ice syndrome (1-4-1) and then he was done (final game came on November 16). It was extremely close to a lost season.
  2. How could these numbers be better? The big issue is health. Khabibulin is definitely the best option among the Oiler goalies when healthy, but the key word is healthy. Khabibulin is at an age when he’s going to have long periods of injury, and his history in this regard suggests he may not be in the NHL two seasons from today.
  3. You liked him a year ago. Last summer, I wrote “like the goalie, don’t like the numbers or term” and stand by it. My main issue is that the contract goes so deep it all counts against the cap even if NK walks away (my understanding is that the Oilers won’t have to count the contract against the cap if he can’t pass the physical at TC).
  4. He’ll be healthy at training camp. I think we need to have a bit of doubt in this area. He played his last NHL game 299 days ago and we don’t really know what he’s been doing in terms of training.
  5. Can he save this contract? Age and injury history would suggest the answer is no.
  6. How Important is he to the organization? He’s very important to Tambellini. This was the marquee move for the new GM and unless this player has a rebound season the club will be left with two lame-duck years of contract for a guy who can’t (apparently) play or stay healthy. Some bad arrows here.
  7. What can you say for certain about Khabibulin’s 10-11? He won’t play center.
  • Prediction for 2010-11: 24gp, 3.00 .906
  • Murphy’s Law (and THE law) on the job for Khabibulin

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