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.