The Edmonton Oilers are in a precarious position with the NHL trade deadline exactly one week away. Not sure if they should buy or sell, the Oilers have assets that other teams could and most likely will be interested in and it starts with goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Oilers have been giving Khabibulin more playing time lately and it’s helped both the club and the 40-year old’s trade value. Perhaps none more so than last night’s 3-0 victory in St. Louis that saw Khabibulin make an astonishing 43 saves for the shutout.
His stats on the season are impressive albeit a small sample size. Through seven games started this season for Edmonton, Khabibulin is 3-3-1 with a neat 1.93 GAA and a 0.941 save percentage proving that he can still make the big saves when needed. A value that will have many clubs inquiring about his services over the next week.
It’s not surprising to learn that Khabibulin could be moved by the trade deadline. The Oilers have made it clear that Devan Dubnyk is going to be their number one netminder moving forward and acquiring what would likely be a draft pick for Khabi is better than losing him for nothing after this season when his contract runs out. The club won’t re-sign him so why not take a draft pick for him and part ways now.
Both Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean of Sportsnet get the sense that there is a market developing for Khabibulin. They note that clubs that are in need of some veteran goaltending such as the Toronto Maple Leafs could be phoning Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini about the former Stanley Cup winner’s services. They also mention that clubs that have had interest in other netminders like Roberto Luongo, Ben Bishop, Jonathan Bernier and recently Miikka Kiprusoff could be drawn to the lower price tag of Khabibulin versus paying a king’s ransom for any of the aforementiond four.
“I think he fits right in there with a lot of teams,” said MacLean. “I think you can get Khabibulin for the right price point and he can come in and bring you some stability and security … I think he’s a second-round pick for Khabibulin.”
Time will tell if the Oilers move the veteran goalie, but all signs point to a deal being had in the next week. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you updated as this story breaks.