March 5, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (35) blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

An Impromptu Discussion About The Goaltending

Nearly three years ago when Nikolai Khabibulin was signed, there was a smattering of cheers, and a giant chorus of boos.

Khabibulin’s numbers have looked better this year, but a lot of that falls on a strong October and a palatable November.  As stats guru Bruce McCurdy points out, Khabibulin has one victory in his last fifteen starts.

So Khabibulin starts today against the Colorado Avalanche after a less than favourable showing against the Canadiens on Thursday.  Dubnyk is being held out with a ‘groin tweak’.

Should this team proceed with a tandem of 35/40 next year?

A look at both goaltenders after the jump.

There were some rumblings that Khabibulin might have gotten the push to a goaltender depraved team like the Leafs this past deadline, but none of it ever matriculated.  If Khabibulin gets dealt, 2012-13 will be the year as it’s the last year on his deal.  I don’t put much stock into an idea that he’d be dealt anytime before the trade deadline, but stranger things have happened.

2009-10:  7-9-2, 3.03 GAA, .909 SV%

2010-11: 10-32-4, 3.40 GAA, .890 SV%

2011-12: 12-19-5, 2.67 GAA, .911 SV%

The numbers don’t lie. It hasn’t been a turnaround of epic proportions, but it’s been a better season compared to his past two.  Fraught with injury in season one, it wasn’t any better in 2010-11 when Khabibulin played in 47 games.  Khabibulin’s October / November save percentage was well above his average, hovering somewhere between .950 and .960.  His last two months have been hovering in the .870 range.

Khabibulin can’t be ‘stuffed in the minors’, he’s on a 35+ deal which means  his cap hit will remain with the team unless he’s dealt.  Can the Oilers interest the Leafs this offseason?

And what does the club do with Dubnyk?  It’s been a lateral step for #40 this year.  While Khabibulin soared in October, Dubnyk needed some extra time to find his footing.  Dubnyk has played in 35 games so far this year, which matches the 35 he played in during the 2010-11 season.

2010-11:  12-13-8, .916 SV% and 2.74 GAA in 35 GP

2011-12:  14-16-1, .908 SV% and 2.90 GAA in 35 GP

Dubnyk has also faced about 140 additional shots during 2010-11.  His contract is up this season, and it likely wouldn’t be a screaming hell to get him for another year or so.  Playing for the Oilers certainly hasn’t helped either one of these guys’ numbers

We’re going to take a look at some prospective UFA goaltenders this week.

Floor’s yours:  Sign Dubnyk?  Trade Khabibulin?  Do neither?  Pick up a UFA?  Lay it on me.

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Tags: Devan Dubnyk Goaltending Nikolai Khabibulin

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