Feb 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (35) against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime. The Blackhawks set an NHL record for scoring at least one point in 19 consecutive games to open a season. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Nikolai Khabibulin And Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice


A STORY

Nikolai Khabibulin has had a pretty good start to his season, which has been quite the unexpected bonus for Oilers fans.

In five games, Khabibulin is 2-2-1.  He’s got a very nice .935 SV% and a 2.12 SV% to go with it.  What he’s doing right now is very nice.  It’s almost as nice as Hot October, when he went 5-0-2 for the month.

Like dreams and youthful aspirations that are violently crushed upon reaching adulthood, the 2011-12 season came tumbling down.  With it came Nikolai Khabibulin’s play, and an awesome display in October turned into a frighting reality by December.  The team wasn’t very good, and after a month of Khabibulin standing on his head, he ended up winning one start in seventeen after Christmas.

REGRESSION IS A THING

Khabibulin is playing good right now.  Very good.  But like Roll Up The Rim, it doesn’t last forever.  It’s fleeting, even.  And as good as Khabibulin is playing right now, you know and I know that he’s going to come around to his career average of .908.  Based on his past performances with the Oilers (.909, .890, and .910), I think .908 is a tad high.

“BUT IT’S A CONTRACT YEAR FOR KHABIBULIN”

I hope you’re not insinuating that the Oilers are going to entertain re-signing a four million dollar backup at age 40.  That being said, I sincerely hope I’m wrong about regression and that he tears the paint off the wall this year and signs a 4 year deal in Detroit.

GET TO THE POINT

Since Khabibulin performed admirably in relief during the Colorado game last Saturday, (the one where Edmonton set a club record with 56 shots) he’s started three of four games. And, he’s done really well.  But don’t expect it to last forever, because it never does.  Just like I didn’t expect Dubnyk to hold a .930 SV% all year, it came down a bit.

The problem is that Khabibulin tends to come down hard.  Reeeeeal hard.

PROVE IT

This ought to do it.

After Christmas, Khabibulin had just one win in seventeen starts.

In 17 starts, Khabibulin allowed four or more goals nine times.

In other words, we’re getting Great Khabibulin for our value right now (if that’s possible).

The Oilers should sell.

The difference between orange juice and Khabibulin?  We’ve already got the crop report.  Sell now.  Sell right now.

They’re not in the market to sell, but they should be.  Anyone who doesn’t hang up the phone after hearing “I hear you’re looking for a goaltender” should be aggressively pursued.

I’m not particular on the return.  A mid round pick?

“Win and you’re in”. Sound at all like Khabibulin’s being groomed for some type of trade to you?  You’re right.  No.

SO WHAT?

The bottom line is this – Khaibbulin’s value right this moment is at or about the highest it’ll be all season.  If the Oilers were going to trade a near $4M backup to another team, they’d do it right now or very, very soon.  They’re not showcasing him to prospective buyers, (and for at least three out of the last four games) the team’s actions are saying that they believe Khabibulin gives them the best chance to win.  And the Oilers are in no position right now to have the luxury of “showcasing” anyone – they need wins badly.

But everybody knows that the value of Khabibulin will likely turn soon.  Wouldn’t you at least try and get something for him now?

UPDATE c. 0930 MST – Nikolai Khabibulin has been placed on IR. So hold off selling for a week, a month, who knows.

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Tags: Edmonton Oilers Nikolai Khabibulin