Update On Khabibulin

Jonathan Willis
July 05 2010 06:23PM

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 23: Nikolai Khabibulin #35 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during the game against the Calgary Flames on September 23, 2009 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

I suppose this article could be taken as further proof that I hate Steve Tambellini. Or the Oilers. Or possibly just Mondays.

I wanted to pass along an update on Nikolai Khabibulin’s back problems, and unfortunately the news isn’t particularly good.

Over at mc79hockey.com, Tyler Dellow has done some digging through the documents filed in Nikolai Khabibulin’s DUI case, and one of the things he discovered was a letter dated May 24 from the surgeon who has been working on Khabibulin. Here’s the most relevant excerpt (for the full letter, see here):

He is under activity restrictions. We hope for a full recovery, but that has not occurred at this time. He is making progress and we will reevaluate his condition in June 2010.

As Dellow points out, the initial recovery timetable supplied by Khabibulin’s agent was 12 weeks – early April, in other words, meaning that the recovery has already taken 60% longer than expected.

Of course, this isn’t dire news at this point: the letter is over a month old, and the Oilers are still a long ways from kicking off the 2010-11 season. It is however something to be concerned about, and perhaps provides additional context for the Oilers’ decision to qualify both Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk.

As a side point, Khabibulin’s surgeon appears to be this man (although I suppose it could also be his son), and if so at least his back is in good hands. Watkins has a fairly long track record of performing surgery on athletes from a range of professional sports; his previous hockey clients include John LeClair and Mario Lemieux.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Quicksilver ballet
July 05 2010, 10:33PM
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One has to wonder if the probability of this scenario was in the back of Tambellinis mind all along. The Oilers only had to pay Khabibulin...what, 1 of the 3.5 he was due last year? This isn't the recommended way to throw 2 rookie goaltenders into the deep end and see which one would sink or swim, but those kids needed games one way or another, maybe it worked out better than Steve expected, it's not as if Steven didn't have an opportunity to bring in another journeyman back-up at some time. If Khabibulin retires because of this back injury doesn't insurance pay his salary for the next 3 years? I know it counts against the cap but how close to the cap does a team hoping for a few lottery picks have to be?

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#52 DonovanMD
July 05 2010, 11:13PM
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Is it bad of me to hope for another tank season and #1 pick? If the Oil go with JDD and Dubby for another season and suffer another rash of injuries, suck early and decide to leave the kids on the farm so as not to burn through a year of eligibility, restock more young talent next summer, would that be a bad thing to you?

It would be hard to watch, but maybe a better option than scraping by with Khabby if he plays and being the same old 8th place (or slightly worse) Oilers team.

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#53 David S
July 05 2010, 11:21PM
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jake wrote:

David S:

Would you give up Hall for 7 or 8 more wins last year?

I'll let you know in a couple of years.

Hey - I get the whole "lose to win" deal. I'll even suffer with it for a year. But JDD and DD sharing goal duties next year is too much to ask any paying fan. I'll say it as many times as I have to - you play the game to win.

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#54 oilfan73
July 06 2010, 07:45AM
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Crash wrote:

I agree with you Dan and David S going on about AHL goaltenders is starting to get stale.

No one except a select few seemed to notice that DD's last 2 months of the season were outstanding...His numbers as far as GAA and save % were as good as any goaltender in the league over his last 12 games or so.

I for one think he is ready to take on a bigger role and that he can and will be quite a fine goaltender...

It seems we have a good many on here who want us to add another mediocre goaltender such as a Huet and recreate the three or four headed monster that we experienced not too many years ago around here.

I for one am going to enjoy DD ramming up the backsides of all the naysayers

I agree and agree.

We also have a youngster in development too. Olivier Roy in the Q. 3 seasons played (155GP 94W 49L 9OTL 12SO 2.76GAA .903SV) played 3 games in Springfield last year with a .913SV. Broke into the Q 3 years ago at 16 years old and stole 27 wins on 47GP. He hasnt looked back since. I love seeing him come to town and take on the SeaDogs. He is a solid standup goaltender who loves to challenge the shooter. He can make spectacular saves and is there on the hard ones. I hope we take our time on this one and give him some solid time in the AHL before we bring him up. Its been a long time since Fuhr, Moog or Joseph, and I am hopeful this kid can fill the role.

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#55 VMR
July 06 2010, 08:15AM
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erixon wrote:

This is 2 months old, can we get a current update on his status before we all explode and jump to conclusions on where he will be in September?

Jail.

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#56 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 06 2010, 08:52AM
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BarryS wrote:

My understanding is bottom 5 is a desirable outcome.

I will happily put up with a crap year for a top 2 pick, anything outside of that and I want to push hard for the PO.

I'll sacrifice the PO for a:

AO/Malkin/Crosby/Ryan/Kane/Stamkos/Tavares type talent.

However, I deffinitly don't see it as "worth it" to endure another disaster for a Zherdev/Ladd/Wheeler/Pouliot/Price/Kessel/Brassard/Hickey/Alzner/Scheen type talent.

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#57 MWA1991
July 06 2010, 09:00AM
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Deep Oil wrote:

JW - can you comment on keeping Khabibulin on LTIR for the next two years if he is unable to perform, vs retirement, which would be devastating for all parties.

Khabibulin under retirement would not get paid by the Oil, maybe some NHLPA injury money.

Oilers would be saddled with his over 35 cap hit until the contract concludes.

Sportsnet (Doug MacLean) have also been quoted that if something were to happen to Khabibulin and he was to pass away, he would still be a cap hit.

There is no walking away from this senior.....

Curious about 'Bulin. I know about the over 35 thing and being stuck with his contract. But what are the ramifications if he was sent to the AHL? Say the Oil signed a new goaltender and waived 'Bulin and placed him in the AHL. Does the over 35 rules still apply and his salary counted against the big club instead of the little club? I could see this as an option if his back is still in question and management wants a journeyman and DD/JDD. Anyone know?

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#58 S.Tambellini
July 06 2010, 10:43AM
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R.A. Slapshotzky wrote:

My very first game was in Toronto 1993, Chicago was in town and won 5-2. Probert and Domi fought a couple times and that made my day. Good first nhl game to go to. RIP Bob Probert.

Domi didn't join the Leafs until late 1995.

Good story though.

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#59 Blair
July 06 2010, 11:54AM
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MWA1991 wrote:

Curious about 'Bulin. I know about the over 35 thing and being stuck with his contract. But what are the ramifications if he was sent to the AHL? Say the Oil signed a new goaltender and waived 'Bulin and placed him in the AHL. Does the over 35 rules still apply and his salary counted against the big club instead of the little club? I could see this as an option if his back is still in question and management wants a journeyman and DD/JDD. Anyone know?

MWA1991, He can play on the moon and it still counts against the cap because of the 35+ rule, no getting around it, even in the AHL...

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#60 MWA1991
July 06 2010, 12:04PM
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@Blair

Thanks Blair. I guess that leaves two options. 1) You hope he is fully recovered and plays like he did when he won the cup. Or 2) He can't play at all and retires. But since it's medical, the Oil are not stuck with the cap hit. (I believe that's the only way they get out of it.)

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#61 TigerUnderGlass
July 06 2010, 12:33PM
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MWA1991 wrote:

Thanks Blair. I guess that leaves two options. 1) You hope he is fully recovered and plays like he did when he won the cup. Or 2) He can't play at all and retires. But since it's medical, the Oil are not stuck with the cap hit. (I believe that's the only way they get out of it.)

They still don't get out of it even then. The only hope is LTIR, or maybe terminating the contract if he goes to jail.

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#62 MWA1991
July 06 2010, 01:21PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

LTIR is what I meant by being medical. I personally didn't like his signing but never wish injury on anyone. But if he goes to jail, I hope they get out of the contract and sign a journeyman that is above average, has class, and at the right price. Here's hoping...

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#63 Senator Theo
July 06 2010, 01:34PM
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S.Tambellini wrote:

Domi didn't join the Leafs until late 1995.

Good story though.

Burn!

That does sound like it would be a good game though. ;)

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