Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin is expected to miss six months after having hip surgery, a move that almost certainly means Braden Holtby will remain with the team rather than getting moved before the trade deadline.
The 35-year-old Khudobin underwent arthroscopic surgery and had the labrum repaired in his right hip, general manager Jim Nill said Tuesday, a day after the procedure was done in New York.
Khudobin had not played in the NHL since mid-January and at all since Jan. 29. He has split time this season with Dallas and their top affiliate, the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.
With Dallas among a handful of teams fighting to make the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference, Holtby — who did not dress in the Stars’ most recent game because of a lower-body injury — is a valuable presence even after young Jake Oettinger emerged as the starter. Holtby, who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie in 2016 and backstopped the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018, is under contract for the rest of this season.
Khudobin has one more year left on his deal at a salary-cap hit of $3.33 million. After stashing him in the minors for part of this season, Dallas could put him on long-term injured reserve if Khudobin’s recovery from a difficult surgery for goalies takes longer than anticipated.
The Stars now look smart for going into this season with extra goalies. Longtime starter Ben Bishop gave up on his comeback from nagging knee injuries in December, and he’s expected to spend 2022-23 on LTIR.
After leading the league in save percentage while sharing the net with Bishop during the 2019-20 season that was cut short by the pandemic, Khudobin took over as the starter in the playoffs contested that summer in quarantined bubbles. He led Dallas on an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, making a postseason-high 744 saves and earning a $10 million, three-year contract.
Khudobin has since been unable to recapture that magic, so the Stars put him on waivers in mid-December and handed the responsibilities to Holtby and Oettinger as they try to grab a playoff spot.
Two teams ahead of Dallas in the standings made a trade Tuesday, with Western Conference-leading Colorado acquiring Nico Sturm from Central Division-rival Minnesota for Tyson Jost in a one-for-one swap of forwards. The move clears $1.275 million in cap space for the Avalanche, who on Monday dealt a draft pick and a top prospect to Anaheim for pending free agent defenseman Josh Manson.
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. EDT Monday.