Skip to content

Blackhawks bring back Nikolai Khabibulin

Jul 5, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT

Nikolai Khabibulin AP

With Ray Emery headed back to Philadelphia, the Chicago Blackhawks found their new backup via a retread as well. Nikolai Khabibulin signed a one-year deal with the team, according to’s Tracey Myers.

The financial terms aren’t clear yet, but one can just about guarantee that “The Bulin Wall” took a massive cut from the $3.75 million he earned in 2013. Update: his agent Jay Grossman indicates it’s $2 million, although some of that is based on incentives.

While it’s reasonable to worry how well the 40-year-old can back Corey Crawford, Khabibulin seems to up his game when his contract is about to expire, last season included.

Obviously a lot of variables can influence these numbers, but it’s still amusing to compare and contrast his contract year work to the season he endured before. Here’s a chronology:


1997-98: 70 games played, .900 save percentage
1998-99: 63 GP, .923 save percentage

Tampa Bay

2002-03: 65 GP, .911 save percentage
2003-04: 55 GP, .910 save percentage … however, he won the Stanley Cup and had a .933 save percentage in the playoffs


2007-08: 50 GP, .909 save percentage
2008-09: 42 GP, .919 save percentage (stole fellow contract year beneficiary Cristobal Huet’s job)


2011-12: 40 GP, .910 save percentage
2013: 12 GP, .923 save percentage

Again, those numbers could be purely coincidental, and he’s had other strong seasons in his career.

Still, if Blackhawks fans want a reason to feel better about the team signing an aging goalie who experienced some personal issues during his time with Edmonton, his work in contract years might help.

  1. bhawksrule - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:28 PM


  2. alexbaymac - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    “Recent Personal Issues”? That link jumped back two years; Van was still burning…

  3. ibieiniid - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    i love stat pull-outs like that. who notices that sort of stuff? thats why i keep reading PHT.

  4. esracerx46 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    I hope that 2mil is HEAVILY incentive based. Gonna be pissed if Philly signed Emery for less or comparable to the Hawks signing Habby

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      The question with Emery may well have been a lot more about his wanting to have an opportunity to start, well advised or not.

  5. mattyg89 - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    I understand emery wanting a bigger contract and am glad to see him earn it. But when Khabi was on the hawks he played well and led a very young hawks team to the conference finals. Should be interesting to see how he does the second time around.

  6. LampyB - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    This is quite a downgrade from the Crawford Emory duo.

  7. boomer1451 - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    Don’t forget about that Antti Raanta signing a few weeks back… I think Habs is a decent enough back up goalie, especially if Crawford stays consistent. If “The Wall” crumbles during his chances, I think the Finnish MVP will step right in. #BiasedHawksFan

  8. jacketsfan7 - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    I think he’ll do decent as a backup in Chicago , you have to remember , he didnt have a stellar defense in front of him in Edmonton

  9. mallethead329 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    It’s practically impossible to repeat in today’s HNL. I understand this move. Remember the disaster with the contracts of Khabibulin and Niemi? Can’t repeat that fiasco. Boomer1451 has it dead on.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      I would not say it is “practically impossible”, difficult for sure. Have to have most of your team back for starters, which they do. They have to be healthy and not getting over the hill. Check. Have to have a solid organization with a good enough pipeline that you have folks who can step in. Check.

      When you combine this with a team that excels offensively and defensively, and is unusually deep, I’d say that they have a decent chance, and have to be regarded as the favorites next year.

  10. Exiled1 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I’ve been reading replies to this spammer puke for 2 weeks. This is by far the best. Let’s keep them coming.

    Really though PHT? You guys can’t block this guy?

    PFT makes my posts disappear all the time.

  11. Exiled1 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Raanta should be the guy. (backup…at least give him a chance) What are you going to do bury him in Rockford?

    • koredan - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      Raanta’s never played on North American ice, and he’ll need time to adjust his game. Khabibulin isn’t a thrilling choice of stop-gap, but hopefully Crawford will be healthy and be able to play everything.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        And who knows how the season will progress, if he does well in the AHL and NK either does not, or another team needs a goalie due to an injury and offers a decent prospect/pick, the Finn could still be promoted.

        I’ve seen a series of excellent decisions by Stanley (cup) Bowman, so we have to trust him on this (I’d of course still prefer to have Ray E back).

    • gobucky1 - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      There’s a huge difference between burying a guy in the minors and having a European goalie start his first year in North America in the AHL to become accustomed to the different style of play. It worked pretty well with Niemi.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:34 PM

        The other related aspect is the rules and how the rules are called.

  12. boomer1451 - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Who is going to be the goalie coach? Losing Waite is tough… Saw Belfour sitting in the stands at Game 5, just sayin

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Agree on the loss, and EB is interesting – one of the all time greats, but I’m not seeing that he has any professional coaching experience.

  13. 19to77 - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    And Ilya Bryzgalov makes like $50,000 a week without even doing anything. In the era of compliance buyouts, this is probably the wrong site to be repping your Internet pyramid scheme.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1845)
  2. P. Kessel (1714)
  3. M. Richards (1471)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1276)
  5. N. Backstrom (1195)