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Don’t count out Nikolai Khabibulin

Aug 11, 2012, 9:31 PM EDT

Edmonton Oilers v New York Rangers Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers’ ideal plan likely revolves around Devan Dubnyk having a season as big as he is.

The Oilers of all teams should know that things rarely shake out ideally in the NHL, which is one of several reasons why the franchise would be wise to keep an eye on aging veteran Nikolai Khabibulin.

Here are some other reasons.

1. “Money” goalie

“The Bulin Wall” should not be taken lightly in a contract year.

He put up pretty good numbers during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the team won its surprising Stanley Cup when Khabibulin was in a contract year.*

The Chicago Blackhawks signed and then essentially gave up on him only to see Khabibulin usurp fellow conveniently hot netminder Cristobal Huet in his last contract year.

Much like Huet, Dubnyk’s track record is slim, so Khabibulin could snatch the job.

2. They already put up with his worst

Khabibulin sported a .890 save percentage in 2010-11 and dealt with embarrassing off-the-ice issues, but the Oilers stood by him anyway. Why not benefit from that patience, then?

3. Flashes of brilliance

As you may remember, Khabibulin started last season on fire. If nothing else, that could be evidence he might have one Dwayne Roloson in 2011-type run left in him.

***

Sure, he’s getting old and probably isn’t Edmonton’s first choice, but don’t be shocked if Khabibulin eventually ends up being the top guy for the Oilers next season.

* Also in contract years then: Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis. Hmm.

Related

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  1. tbbolts91 - Aug 11, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    If he can pull a Dwayne Roloson I’ll do a naked lap around the Washington Monument

  2. bcjim - Aug 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I hereby count him out.

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