Tag: Yann Danis

Nikolai Khabibulin

Can Nikolai Khabibulin get his career back together?


If you’re not the patient type, you might think that the Edmonton Oilers are at a crossroads. At some point, Oilers fans will likely grow tired of the word “potential.” Sure, they might be delighted by the bevy of high draft picks still in their teens or early 20’s right now, but at some point earning the top pick of the draft will be more shameful than hopeful. Sooner or later, this team needs to start winning games.

If you’re a realist, it’s pretty tough to envision that time being the 2011-12 season. That being said, a Hollywood scriptwriter might see an obvious redemption story revolving around the Oilers and their wayward goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

“The Bulin Wall” falls apart

The 38-year-old goalie has seen plenty of ups and downs in his career – from contract squabbles in Phoenix to a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay to a mixed bag in Chicago and finally that ludicrous four-year, $15 million deal with Edmonton – but things have been decidedly “down” since he became an Oiler. His worst moment came last summer, when he received an extreme DUI and reckless driving charge. Khabibulin was able to appeal and postpone jail time in order to play hockey last season, but will face the music for 30 days (half in prison, half with an “electric monitoring device”) this summer after dropping his appeal.

Things haven’t been much better on the ice, either

This story would probably gain more attention if Khabibulin found the hockey rink as a sanctuary, but if his on-ice results are any indication, it hasn’t provided him much comfort. During two seasons with the Oilers, Khabibulin went 17-41-6 in 63 games played with mediocre (.909 save percentage and 3.03 GAA in 09-10) to awful (.890 save percentage and 3.40 GAA in 10-11) individual numbers.

The Edmonton Journal is polling its audience to see if the goalie deserves a second chance, but since Khabibulin’s contract is a 35+ deal, the Oilers are forced to keep him around unless some foolish team decides to trade for him. Head coach Tom Renney indicated that the starting job is Khabibulin’s to lose, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he had a short leash this season.

Edmonton’s troubling options in net

The team will probably lean on over-sized prospect goalie Devan Dubnyk more either way, especially since he nearly went .500 (12-13-8) and put up an above average .916 save percentage and 2.71 GAA. If their 2011-12 seasons resemble 10-11, it won’t be long before Khabibulin ends up parked on the bench.

It’s a grim situation though, with one goalie who seems done (Khabibulin) and one goalie who might not be ready yet (Dubnyk). Yann Danis ranks as the “break glass in case of an emergency” goalie, but if it comes to that, the Oilers very well might be in draft lottery talk land again.

Really, the only bummer is that Khabibulin isn’t in a contract year. He won a Cup right before his contract expired in Tampa Bay and mysteriously played his best year of hockey with the Blackhawks in a similar situation.

Perhaps the possibility of a 2012-13 turnaround is something Oilers fans can look forward to, because the next season could be another bleak one.

Nikolai Khabibulin drops his DUI appeal, will go to jail

Nikolai Khabibulin

Nikolai Khabibulin is doing the right thing and owning up to his crime.

Last summer, Khabibulin was convicted in an Arizona court of extreme DUI and reckless driving and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He filed an appeal to get a stay on his sentence, but today he’s opted to drop his appeal and serve his punishment.

According to a representative of Scottsdale City Court, he will spend 15 days in jail, with the other 15 days to be served at home with an electronic monitoring device. Khabibulin must also enter an alcohol treatment program.

Khabibulin was arrested and charged in February of last year in Scottsdale. Police say he was doing 70 miles/hr in a 40 miles/hr zone. They went to say that a breathalyzer showed he had at least twice the legal amount of alcohol in his system.

Khabibulin issued a statement on the situation and The Sporting News’ Craig Custance shares the word from the former Stanley Cup winning goalie.

“Over the past 6 months my appeals case has been pending with the Maricopa County Superior Court and, as of July 7, 2011, no Oral Argument date had been set. The length of this process has placed my attendance at training camp in serious jeopardy. Accordingly, despite assurances by legal counsel regarding the strength of my appeals case, I have decided to withdraw my appeal and proceed with sentencing by the Scottsdale Municipal Court.

“I readily accept the lawful sentence which has been imposed by the Scottsdale Municipal Court, which includes jail, fines and substance abuse counseling. I will fulfill all of my obligations required by Scottsdale and the State of Arizona in the coming month. Once completed, I eagerly anticipate a timely return to Edmonton for training camp, where I will strive to be the best player, teammate and citizen possible.”

Khabibulin’s sentence likely won’t have much of an effect on the Edmonton Oilers as he’ll likely be in and out of lockup before training camp begins in September. The Oilers already have a lot of options in goal as it is with Devan Dubnyk on the rise and now Yann Danis in the system as well. That’s of little consequence as Khabibulin’s conviction is embarrassing for himself and for the team as well.

Khabibulin has two more years remaining on a four-year, $15 million contract that the Oilers signed him to that also doubles as a 35+ deal meaning that his $3.75 million cap hit sticks around no matter what. If the Oilers are eager to let him go and try to get rid of him through any other means than a trade, they’ll be stuck owing him that money against the cap regardless of what they do with him. Expect that the Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini will stick by Khabibulin through this ordeal and get him back on the ice as long as he’s healthy.