Evaluating the Edmonton Oilers' options after Khabibulin's guilty verdict

khabibulinscoredon.jpgSo far, I’ve shared the possible affects the guilty verdict could have on Nikolai Khabibulin and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini’s statement on the matter. Barring the unclear possibility of a league-mandated suspension, the last big piece of the puzzle is how this situation impacts Edmonton’s messy goalie situation.

The first thing to note is that we can debate the quality of their netminders, but the Oilers aren’t hurting for quantity. Along with Khabibulin, Edmonton employs three other goalies who can technically be considered “NHL level”: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, (almost) Chara-sized goalie Devan Dubnyk and Martin Gerber. While it’s highly questionable that a good NHL team would want to roll with any of those three goalies, the crowded room in net makes the seemingly reasonable concept of giving Antti Niemi’s agent a call seem unrealistic. So the Oilers are likely stuck with what they have in net – at the NHL level, anyway – regardless.

Moving on, we have the nebulous issue of the “morals clause.” I wrote about that unlikely scenario in July, but Tyler Dellow (one of the first to point out the vague possibility) responded quite reasonably.

To be perfectly clear: I think that the morals clause is a dead end. People who have been focusing on it as a possible out are wasting their time, I think. Failing to show up for games though – that’s a breach of contract that doesn’t require delving into the murky waters of what falls below the expected level of conduct. This is a far more real problem for Khabibulin and a far cleaner shot for the Oilers, if Tambo can stomach cutting his 2009-10 MVP.

dubnyk2.jpg(The Oilers named an MVP for last season? I would have gone with whoever chose the lottery ball for the No.1 pick.)

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal asked an NHL agent about the chances of the Oilers terminating the contract on the grounds of that morals clause.

The agent doesn’t believe a team would challenge the conduct clause over impaired driving. If a team did that, the NHL Players’ Association would likely file a grievance.

“You don’t want to be in a situation where you challenge the validity of a contract and you go to arbitration and the team loses. Then they get the player back who, say, has a no-trade clause and is completely unmoveable.

“You get a player back who plays goal. How motivated do you think he’ll be?” said the agent.

Eh, if you ask me, Khabibulin rarely finds much motivation in non-contract years, anyway.

Long story short, the Oilers aren’t likely to get out from under the blemish that is Khabibulin’s contract (unless he misses actual regular season games).

Overall, all signs point to everyone losing. Khabibulin’s disastrous 2009-10 season looks like it will spill over into 2010-11 to at least some extent, especially if he’s “rusty” like many wonder. The Oilers will probably have to lay in the bad contract bed that they made – and even if he’s gone, their goalie situation is ugly. Ultimately, it’s like a bad hangover … something Khabibulin might have been able to relate to the morning after that unfortunate incident.

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    Kings’ AHL affiliate gives Emery PTO

    Ray Emery
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    Ray Emery has agreed to join the Ontario Reign on a professional tryout, according to a team release.

    The Reign are the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.

    Emery attended Tampa Bay’s training camp on a PTO, but he was released after the team claimed Kevin Poulin on waivers from the Islanders.

    The 33-year-old had a 10-11-7 record with a 3.06 goals-against-average and a .894 save percentage in 31 games with the Flyers last season.

    Even with starter Jonathan Quick struggling, it’s hard to envision this move leading to a return to the NHL for Emery.

    The Kings have Quick and Jhonas Enroth with the big club, while veteran Peter Budaj was signed to a two-way contract on Friday.

    Goalie nods: Reimer makes first start of the season

    James Reimer
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    James Reimer will get his first start of the 2015-16 season on Saturday night against Ottawa.

    Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock made it clear from the beginning that Jonathan Bernier was going to start on Wednesday against Montreal and Friday in Detroit, while Reimer would get in against the Sens.

    “I’ve known this for a long time that (Bernier is) starting and he’s starting on Wednesday and he’s starting on Friday. Reims is starting on Saturday,” Babcock said before the season began.

    Things haven’t gone according to plan for Toronto through two games.

    Not only have they lost both contests, but Bernier was pulled in yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Wings, and the team has scored only one goal this season.

    Reimer, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in just under 40 minutes of action against Detroit, will go up against Craig Anderson.


    Cam Talbot will try to get his first win as an Oiler as they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Pekka Rinne will start for the Predators.

    Carey Price and Tuukka Rask will face-off when the Canadiens and Bruins renew hostilities at the TD Garden in Boston.

    Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes when the Red Wings take on the ‘Canes in Carolina. Cam Ward gets the nod for the Hurricanes.

    Keith Kinkaid for the Devils. Braden Holtby makes his first start of the year in the Capitals’ season opener.

    Steve Mason for the Flyers. Roberto Luongo for the Panthers in their opener.

    -Columbus hasn’t confirmed who their starter will be in the back half of their home-and-home with the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist will start for New York.

    Jake Allen makes his first start of the regular season for St. Louis. Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.

    -The Islanders have yet to confirm their starter for tonight’s game in Chicago. Scott Darling for the ‘Hawks after Corey Crawford helped spoil the party in Brooklyn yesterday.

    Antti Niemi gets the call for Dallas after he blanked the Penguins in his first start. Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.

    Jonas Hiller for Calgary. Ryan Miller for the Canucks.

    -The Penguins haven’t confirmed who their starter will be in Arizona tonight. Mike Smith will likely play in back-to-back games after beating the Kings on Friday.

    -The Ducks have yet to confirm their starter. Martin Jones will start for San Jose.