Nikolai Khabibulin 10-11: Desolation Row

The Edmonton Oilers would have been better off without Nikolai Khabibulin this season. Rookie Devan Dubnyk outplayed him and veteran Martin Gerber looked capable of posting superior numbers if given the opportunity.

The Khabibulin signing was too long by double and has backfired as expected; the only positive I can think of is that putting #35 in 47 games is an instant L and enough of those put you in the lottery.

At some level, in the bowels of the Oiler offices, someone is cursing an Arizona lawyer. Surely.

Nikolai Khabibulin 10-11

  • Boxcars: 47gp, 3.40
  • SP: .890
  • WLT: 10-32-4
  • SP clear of backup: backup G was 26 points clear of NK
  1. What do these numbers tell us? He appears done. At 38 years of age, having played over 800 games at a high level, Nikolai Khabibulin’s ability to stop pucks in the NHL has left him. One doubts he can get it back for an extended period, let alone a season. Then there’s the health issue and the other thing.
  2. How do you know he’s done? Plenty of indicators have us leaning that way. His SP was 45th out of 47 “regulars” this season (he beat bruiser Rick DiPietro and Ty “2006 G1″ Conklin) and 71st among 87 goalies overall. He’s in the very spot on these lists where goalers are sent away.
  3. Good grief. LOTS of old goalies are still in the league. He’ll recover. You mean like Tim Thomas? Thomas has enjoyed seasons of .933, .915 and .938 the last three seasons. Khabibulin’s last three seasons? .919, .909 and .890. To quote Planes, Trains and Automobiles he’s “going the wrong way.”
  4. I was thinking more like Glenn Hall. Glenn Hall’s final three seasons (beginning at age 37) saw him post .928, .904 and .917. Those were glorious numbers for his time. Old goalies with mediocre numbers get sent away, as do old goalies with horrible numbers.
  5. Yeah, but Khabibulin had to backstop a horrible team. As Did Devan Dubnyk. The rookie outclassed the veteran and it wasn’t close.
  6. Are you seriously suggesting Dubnyk is a better goaltender bet moving forward? God yes. DD had a solid debut; we shouldn’t start talking about an impact player or anything but there’s a chance this guy will have a career as a regular. He should start the bulk of 11-12 games for the Oilers.
  7. You know, everyone piles on Khabibulin. Roloson signed a contract with Edmonton and lost his job! In 07-08, Roloson and Garon played about the same (Garon played a little more). Comparing Roloson’s performance after his 2006 contract and Khabibulin’s Oiler deal is a non-starter.
  8. Can he save this contract? Age, performance and injury history would suggest the answer is no.
  9. What is the ideal exit strategy? In a perfect world the Oilers would be able to place him on an unable to play list due to the Arizona legal issues. That’s pretty cold, but facts are facts and not playing Khabibulin is a better plan than playing him.
  10. Flush NK and replace him with Dubnyk, and ? Oilers have been rumored to be asking after Viktor Fasth and I think they’ll probably sign someone along those lines.
  11. Nikolai Khabibulin is going to make you look silly next year. Hope so, always liked him.
Prediction for 2010-11: 24gp, 3.00 .906
Actual 2010: 47gp, 3.40 .890
Not exactly as planned

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