Nikolai Khabibulin

Khabibulin’s season to begin on IR

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Nikolai Khabibulin’s contract year is off to a shaky start – on the injured reserve.

The Edmonton Oilers sent along word that the netminder considers himself day-to-day as he continues to recover from hip surgery, which he underwent in April 2012.

Recent history indicates that this is far from a jarring loss for the team; Copper & Blue’s Ryan Batty even describes it as a blessing in disguise. His Edmonton numbers have ranged from mediocre to terrible aside from a surprising hot streak that began the 2011-12 season.

Some abstract thinkers will point out that “The Bulin Wall” has generated some of his best work during contract years, though.

He won a Stanley Cup in his final season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a sterling .933 save percentage in the playoffs. That run convinced the Chicago Blackhawks to shell out a big contract, but the Russian goalie didn’t perform well until he usurped fellow highly paid underachiever Cristobal Huet in 2008-09.

Perhaps he can pull a rabbit out of a hat one more time, but for now, the Oilers will roll with Devan Dubnyk and Yann Danis. Most Edmonton fans won’t urge management to rush Khabibulin back, either.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.