Thought he hasn’t appeared in an NHL contest since May 2010, Cristobal Huet thinks he should be back in the league.
“I still belong, I’m better than some other guys, and I’d like another shot,” Huet told InGoal Magazine. “I’d love to come back, but I know once you are out of the league a little bit guys tend to forget about you and that’s the nature of the beast.
“But I still think I have something to show in the NHL, and to prove I still belong there. For me it would be a great second chance to come back and play in the best league.”
Huet famously (or, infamously) signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with Chicago back in 2008. It was an eye-popping decision given:
— Chicago already had Nikolai Khabibulin (and was paying him $6.75 million per season.)
— Huet was 32 at the time and had never played more than 52 games in a season.
— Huet was traded by the playoff-bound Canadiens at the deadline to Washington, where he posted a 2.92 GAA and .909 save percentage in an opening-round playoff loss to Philly.
Huet’s time in Chicago was marked by spotty play and an inability to wrestle the starting gig away from Khabibulin and, later, Antti Niemi.
The Windy City stint ended with a Stanley Cup victory in 2010 (during which Huet backed up Niemi)…followed by a “loan” to Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss League, a clever way for the ‘Hawks to make his massive cap hit disappear.
Funny thing happened in Switzerland, though — Huet found his game. He posted a .932 save percentage and 1.99 GAA last season and, coincidentally, his aforementioned four-year deal expired.
With the UFA goalie market thinned out and teams still scrambling for backups (it’s down to the likes of Dan Ellis and Alex Ault), Huet figures now is his chance to get back into the NHL, noting his agent has talked to “a few” teams.
“I know my role would be this way now that I am out of the league,” he said. “So for me it would be an opportunity to compete, but at same time help a guy, be a good guy in the room and try to be the best I can when I play.”