HEMSKY AND KHABI LIKELY TO MOVE?

Robin Brownlee
January 26 2012 01:49PM

What are the chances Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin are moved by the Edmonton Oilers by the NHL trade deadline? I don't know for sure, but their names came up in a conversation today between two people I trust, so I'm paying attention.

Of course, Hemsky's name has been the subject of untold speculation for months, some might say years, so hearing his name come up today as being moved along is hardly stop-the-presses material. Likewise, fans around here and elsewhere have mentioned Khabibulin, even if much of the talk falls into the category of wishful thinking.

But when long-time Ottawa Sun beat man Bruce Garrioch, one of a handful of people in the hockey writing business I consider to be in the know, mentions Hemsky and Khabibulin, as he did today in a segment on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED, I put considerably more weight in it than I do in garden variety what-if talk offered up by fans and outsiders pretending to have inside info.

Yes, Garrioch throws a lot of stuff against the wall to see what sticks – that's part of his mandate and comes with filling with his widely read weekend column – but I made and took enough calls from him over the years while working the beat to know he's got a pretty good grasp of what's going on.

Just one example of that came at the NHL Entry Draft in Nashville when Garrioch strongly suggested I look into the possibility all was not right between the Oilers and Mike Comrie – that was months before the crap hit the fan between No. 89 and then GM Kevin Lowe, but I digress . . .

MOST LIKELY TO MOVE

Today, Stauffer, who is more in the know than anybody in this town by a long shot when it comes to the Oilers, asked Garrioch who he'd list as most likely to move between now and the deadline Feb. 27.

Garrioch mentioned seven players, including Hemsky and Khabibulin on his list with Tuomo Ruutu, Tim Gleason, Jaroslav Spacek, Bryan Allen – Jason Gregor and I talked this quartet from the Carolina Hurricanes on his show at TEAM 1260 Wednesday – and Bobby Ryan of Anaheim. I'd also add Andy Sutton to that list, but neither Garrioch nor Stauffer brought his name up.

With Hemsky approaching unrestricted free agency, it's a no-brainer he's grist for the rumor mill. I have no doubt Tambellini will shop him. The only question is how aggressively, and who returns his calls.

What got my attention, given his age and what would seem a very limited list of teams in the market, was Garrioch's insistence Khabibulin will be in play, which leads me to believe he's heard something.

With 33 days until the deadline, the buzz, guesswork and speculation will increase once the all-star game is done. For fans, that means throwing out scenarios and wish-lists of acquisitions (often one-sided deals that will help their team). For reporters, it means working the phones and checking with agents to get an inside track on what's likely to happen. The scribes on top of things, like Garrioch, have already made a lot of those calls.

Stay tuned.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
January 26 2012, 02:09PM
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~Taking back Roloson is just brilliant. While we're at it let's grab Moreau and see if Tom Poti is available~

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#3 Time Travelling Sean
January 26 2012, 01:52PM
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That question mark is asinine.

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#4 Soccer Steve
January 26 2012, 01:56PM
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I just recently watched Moneyball. In a few separate scenes, for those who haven't seen it, Brad Pitt's character yells out on a whim for his secretary to get some other MLB GM on the phone. The GM picks up. Pitt proposes a trade. The GM says yes, no, or other. Pitt hangs up and lets the GM mull it over meanwhile calling another colleague GM. This continues until the trade is done or dead.

Every year we read the blogs or listen to the talking heads on TV or the radio. Every year it's the same. The media knows nothing. I reckon some of the GM's know nothing and make a lot of trades on a whim.

Maybe we should save the energy and time and effort and just let it all happen.

Just my 2 cents.

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#5 Coco Crsip
January 26 2012, 05:11PM
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NAIL ME YAKUPOV

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#6 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 26 2012, 02:05PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

I just recently watched Moneyball. In a few separate scenes, for those who haven't seen it, Brad Pitt's character yells out on a whim for his secretary to get some other MLB GM on the phone. The GM picks up. Pitt proposes a trade. The GM says yes, no, or other. Pitt hangs up and lets the GM mull it over meanwhile calling another colleague GM. This continues until the trade is done or dead.

Every year we read the blogs or listen to the talking heads on TV or the radio. Every year it's the same. The media knows nothing. I reckon some of the GM's know nothing and make a lot of trades on a whim.

Maybe we should save the energy and time and effort and just let it all happen.

Just my 2 cents.

Now what fun would that be?

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#7 Jonathan Willis
January 26 2012, 02:16PM
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I have to admit I've been leery of Garrioch ever since "Malkin to the Kings." It's too hard to know if he's actually heard something or is just throwing stuff out there.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
January 26 2012, 02:28PM
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@Crooked

Khabibulin's been a 0.902 goalie over his Oilers career. In the same span, Dubnyk's been a 0.908 goalie.

He's had good games - as the start of the season shows, he's even had stretches of them. But overall he's been a sup-average backup at an outrageously inflated price.

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#9 Jonathan Willis
January 26 2012, 02:57PM
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@Clyde Frog

I suppose anything's possible. Tommy Salo led to Tom Gilbert, after all.

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#10 The Beaker
January 26 2012, 03:38PM
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KINGOIL wrote:

STUPID, HOW ABOUT WE PACKAGE HEMMER UP IN A TRADE TO LA IN RETURN WE WILL TAKE PENNER BACK TO GIVE LA THE CAP RELIEF THEY NEED ALSO THEY ADD IN THERE BEST D PROSPECT OR THERE 1ST !! PREFERBLY THERE BEST D PROSPECT. BOOK IT !!

THEIR. READ IT IN A BOOK!!

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#11 Clyde Frog
January 26 2012, 04:26PM
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madjam wrote:

I would hope we are initiating the talks and not waiting for others to call . Everyone is available if price , etc. are worth it . Expand our choices with all clubs just not a few . Gretzky and Messier proves all are expendible with the right deal . I doubt the club wants to go back in talent any further than what it has already . We need deals now that will upgrade team . I don't think we should be going after another plethora of draftees with our trades - we have enough already to try and build around . This year we may have more blue chippers if we continue to be a bottom feeder anyways.

Oh Madjam you just know everything and express it a beautiful paragraphless form....

On a side note, its really too bad that both Hall and RNH turned into such giant busts for us. Just like you predicted.

Do you have anymore amazing predictions and actions?

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#12 Romulus' Apotheosis
January 26 2012, 05:03PM
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Wouldn't the issue with Khabbie be less his age and performance concerns and more the length of his contract?

Any team looking for a goalie at the deadline is looking for a rental to either bolster for a run and/or cover the cost of future injuries. They aren't thinking about icing a 40 year old expensive contract the following season.

I still think the Oil's 1st, 2nd and 3rd options with Hemsky have to be re-sign him...

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#13 Time Travelling Sean
January 26 2012, 07:23PM
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If Jeff Carter won't play in Columbus, I don't want him playing here.

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#14 Robin Brownlee
January 26 2012, 08:15PM
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If teams in playoff contention are looking for a starter, they aren't looking at Khabibulin. If they want or need insurance they might.

At .918 through 30 apperances behind a defense that's at best been an NHL/AHL hybrid, there is nothing wrong with Khabibulin's numbers.

Isolating a hot start or a particularly horrid stretch to make a point is misleading. If a guy scores 40 goals in a season, but only 12 of them came in the second half, he's still got 40 goals. Wondering why he tailed off in the second half is a legitimate question, but it's an aside to the overall body of work for that season.

Khabibulin has been spectactular some games, many early on, and terrible in a handful of others. In 18 of his 30 appearances, Khabibulin has been .915 or better, which is pretty good and above his career .908. It's damn sure a helluva bounce back from his .890 last season.

While segments of that overall .918 might have Willis and some stats guys doubting Khabibulin has any value to other GMs, I'm confident there is a market, however limited, for him as insurance or a back-up based on the balance of his season. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, a deal gets done.

The year remaining on Khabibulin's contract, not his ability to stop pucks, is the biggest wrench in the works, as has been pointed out.

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#15 Jon
January 27 2012, 12:22AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

There's nothing wrong with looking at specific segments of numbers.

In the case of Khabibulin, a great start does put his .918 in context, but it's still .918 through 30 appearances behind a group of blueliners that can't get out of its own way some nights without Whitney and Gilbert.

If Khabibulin is anywhere near his career percentage a week before the deadline, and he'd have to fall down dead between now and then not to be, that and his experience will garner some interest from teams looking for insurance.

Just looking at the second tier of playoff contenders in the EC, there are four teams that are less than overwhelming in goal.

OTT -- Craig Anderson. Lots of wins but .910 and 2.90/ Alex Auld .879 and 3.57

FLA -- Scott Clemmensen .914 and 2.72/Jose Theodore .916 and 2.50.

NJ -- Brodeur .899 and 2.77/Hedberg .909 and 2.45

TOR -- Gustavsson .910 and 2.73/Reimer .899 and 3.01.

Allowing for hot stretches and cold spells and everything in between, Khabibulin has a better saves percentage than anyone listed above and his goals-against is better than seven of the eight (tied with Hedberg). Every one of the players I've listed has a better team in front of him than Khabibulin does.

I think the most likely team that Khabby moves to is a team in the West...Chicago.

A couple of reasons. First, definitely a candidate for worst goaltending for a playoff team: Crawford .902 and 2.86/ Emery .907 and 2.57

Second, Blackhawks have experience with Khabby, and from what I know they like him and only parted ways because of money.

Third, one of the few teams where Khabby's extra year on his contract isn't a bad thing. Emery is a UFA so they'll need a second goalie for next year. Crawford is their starter, but he's young and obviously still working on his game. By all accounts, Khabby is a team player and a good leader with the young guys. They're not giving up on Crawford, but Khabby sounds like one of the ideal choices to play 1B with him.

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#16 shanetrain
January 27 2012, 09:04AM
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Calgary will make a blockbuster and Edmonton will once again be found in the corner sitting on their hands.

Painfull.

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#17 Clyde Frog
January 26 2012, 01:54PM
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Any chance the lightning take a shot on Khabibulin?

They seem to like older goalies who played for Edmonton, he has a good history with them.... We could take back Roloson!

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#18 Souby
January 26 2012, 01:58PM
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Now things are starting to get interesting.....

Robin, It has been rumoured that Tampa Bay has been looking for help between the pipes and with Khabby's history there, do you see this as a fit? What, if any, other suitors might be out there?

Whether it is Tampa or someone else, what do you think the return would be on a 39 year old goalie with lots of miles on him?

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#19 Souby
January 26 2012, 01:59PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Any chance the lightning take a shot on Khabibulin?

They seem to like older goalies who played for Edmonton, he has a good history with them.... We could take back Roloson!

Yah...what he said!

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#20 vetinari
January 26 2012, 02:02PM
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This season is another wash so moving a goalie (like Khabi), a defenceman (Sutton), and a forward or two (Hemsky, Gagner, Hordichuk, Green, etc.) should be expected. Hopefully, the Oil can land one or two foundation stones on defence and in goal in return. I would think any UFA would be in play at the deadline as a rental and any "second tier" or fringe youth players.

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#22 freeze
January 26 2012, 02:04PM
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The T.D. hype is horrible already; the next month is going to suck.

(as will watching the Oilers flush serviceable NHL players)

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#23 Time Travelling Sean
January 26 2012, 02:06PM
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I think Hemmer in a package deal to LA that can bring us Bernier would be good. Khabby to TBL for some overpaid depth player and a pick/prospect makes sense?

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#24 Jonathan Willis
January 26 2012, 02:09PM
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Given that Tampa Bay just passed on Antero Niittymaki, why would they take Khabibulin for anything?

Khabibulin makes almost $4.0 million next season, and has been a 0.902 SV% goalie for the Oilers. Since his first nine games, he's been a 0.899 SV% goalie.

He has negative value.

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#25 Souby
January 26 2012, 02:10PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

I just recently watched Moneyball. In a few separate scenes, for those who haven't seen it, Brad Pitt's character yells out on a whim for his secretary to get some other MLB GM on the phone. The GM picks up. Pitt proposes a trade. The GM says yes, no, or other. Pitt hangs up and lets the GM mull it over meanwhile calling another colleague GM. This continues until the trade is done or dead.

Every year we read the blogs or listen to the talking heads on TV or the radio. Every year it's the same. The media knows nothing. I reckon some of the GM's know nothing and make a lot of trades on a whim.

Maybe we should save the energy and time and effort and just let it all happen.

Just my 2 cents.

Just let it all happen?????

Where is the fun in that? If you don't like to hear the rumour mill churning and that is certainly your choice; change the station. I like it because it adds a bit of mystery and intrigue to following your team or hockey in general.

I feel the media and GM's know a little more than you give them credit for though. Guys like Mackenzie, Dreger, Garrioch and Stauffer are in the know and more often than not, they peg something pretty close to the mark. They might not get the destination 100% of the time, but usually if a players name comes up as available, they know about it.

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#26 Quicksilver ballet
January 26 2012, 02:11PM
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Comrie,Smyth,Pronger,Souray...Hemsky, who's next to be heading out of town? Looks as though they've done a good job wizzing Taylor Hall off lately.

When in doubt, wait till you exausted your options and move one of your better players for the weakest of returns. The reasons for this losing culture has never been more evident.

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#27 Chris
January 26 2012, 02:17PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"The media knows nothing. I reckon some of the GM's know nothing and make a lot of trades on a whim."

No question there's lots of baseless speculation and guesswork to weed through, but you're way over the top with that statement.

Until a trade is actually made, all reporters can do is track who is talking and try to find out what players are being discussed. There are lots of talks that result in nothing, but to suggest the etablished guys out there who have national audiences know nothing and, it follows, are making things up, is a bit much.

It makes sense to me that GMs would need to float who is available to potential suitors and that info could realistically flow down from GM to support staff (or other) to media. So its logical to put some weight into media suggestions on who is on the trade block. It wouldn't make sense for teams to keep their cards tight on who they'd like to move.

But on the flip side I can't think of a logical reason why anyone on either side of the equation would divulge the return. Unless the team shipping a player out wanted to up the bidding war by proving what someone else offered? Otherwise it seems like any trade rumor that includes what might come back the other way would be almost entire speculative no matter who its coming from, media or otherwise.

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#29 Crooked
January 26 2012, 02:24PM
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@Jonathan Willis

In fairness, he also spent the majority of the past 20 starts without an actual NHL defense in front of him. He's had a few brutal games, but he's kept the team in several games they should have been blown out of.

That said, I'm equally skeptical about him being moved, though he could prove to be a solid backup on a contending team. That extra year is the main problem to moving him.

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#30 Jonathan Willis
January 26 2012, 02:26PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I agree that there's no question at least some of Garrioch's stuff is well-founded. It's just a matter of sifting the wheat from the chaff.

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#31 CaptainLander
January 26 2012, 02:31PM
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I think Tambi sticks to his mandate of Do nothing and hope it all works out, okay the Penner trade last deadline was pretty impressive. Maybe we see something interesting happen.

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#32 CaptainLander
January 26 2012, 02:31PM
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I think Tambi sticks to his mandate of Do nothing and hope it all works out, okay the Penner trade last deadline was pretty impressive. Maybe we see something interesting happen.

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#34 Professor
January 26 2012, 02:32PM
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Would love to see Khabi go for a 2nd or 3rd round pick. I don't see it happening though. I don't think he is as bad as goalie as he has been for the last 20 games or so, but he isn't as good as he was at the beginning of the year. He's probably a 2.7 or 2.8 GAA with a 910% save percentage. Either way not worth the $3.7 we will have to pay him next year. Trade him and grab something on the FA market in the summer.

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#35 Rick
January 26 2012, 02:32PM
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Robin;

In regards to Hemsky is there a sense out there if a potential move is the result of Hemsky becoming disenchanted with the Oilers and unlikely to re-sign or if it is the result of the Oiler's brass deciding that Hemsky's time in Edmonton is up by their terms?

Thanks

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#36 sloppy joe
January 26 2012, 02:36PM
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I think Willis is 100% on the money when it comes to Khabibulin. He does indeed have negative value. Nittymaki cleared waivers. You'd think that anyone in the market for what Bulin brings would have been happy to get the same thing for free from the Sharks. I would be delighted if someone would take Bulin for free, but I'd be shocked if it happened.

Re Hemsky - it makes me sad. I just don't see how we get anything close to decent value for him at this point - i.e. a rental having a bad season. I don't see how it makes any sense to give him a long contract for decent money given the injury history and recent performance. And I don't see why he would take short term and low money from the Oil when he could test the FA waters this summer. The options seems to be (1) trade him for peanuts at or before the deadline; (2) lose him for nothing in the summer; (3) improvidently sign him to longish term and decent money, with the ever-looming risk of injury. It's lose-lose-lose no matter what happens with him.

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#37 Joe K
January 26 2012, 02:36PM
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Darren Dreger last night mentioned Sam Gagner as the player other teams have been asking about.

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#38 Clyde Frog
January 26 2012, 02:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Given that Tampa Bay just passed on Antero Niittymaki, why would they take Khabibulin for anything?

Khabibulin makes almost $4.0 million next season, and has been a 0.902 SV% goalie for the Oilers. Since his first nine games, he's been a 0.899 SV% goalie.

He has negative value.

Because he is known-commodity with a history and is outperforming their current tandem.

Again it boils down to price, history and performance. If a GM is going to make a splash I would posit they would want to minimize risk and there is a lot of "seen him good" when trying to make a decision over just the stat sheet spread.

If we ask the right price, take enough in return I would argue Khabibulin is not un-tradable, especially with the flashes of brilliance he has shown.

I'm not saying it will happen, just that its not as far fetched as someone buried in piles of stats sheets may want us to believe.

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#39 Joe K
January 26 2012, 02:42PM
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The one thing about Khabibulin is that for most of the year he has had AHL defensemen in front of him. Some teams may think he could be a second string goalie. Obviously the way he played a the beginning of the season he looked like the best goalie in the league. Teams may think with their defence he could be good.

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#40 rubbertrout
January 26 2012, 02:48PM
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Wouldn't it be something if Khabby replaced Roloson not once, but twice?

I'll be much happier about it if it happens this time than last time.

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#41 DieHard
January 26 2012, 02:51PM
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Seriously, what team would want Khabibulin with that extra year. Without it, then yes a decent insurance backup.

If the oilers won't/can't/don't re-sign Hemsky by the first week in Feb then he's gone and it won't matter what the return is.

I can see Sutton being traded for a 3rd rounder and possibly Smyth for about the same. Smyth would be back next year though.

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#42 JB
January 26 2012, 02:55PM
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Robin, any thoughts on where Khabibulin would be a consideration? Off the top of my head, FLA seems like the only one due to Dale Tallon's presence. Problem is they've been getting solid goaltending and they would likely want to keep a spot on the roster for Jacob Markstrom next year.

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#43 Sloppy Joe
January 26 2012, 03:00PM
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There are a lot of posts re trading Bulin to tampa for Roli. I just don't see it.

Tampa is 9 points out of the playoffs. It's not looking very good for them. Roli is on the last year of his contract. Bulin has one more at almost 4 mil. I don't have a good sense of where tampa is cap-wise, but I just don't see how it would make sense for them to take on an additional year of Bulin when this year is so perilously close to being written off. It just doesn't make sense.

Not to suggest that Eliotte Friedman is is an omniscient hockey-man (he's not), but I enjoy his weekly "30 thoughts" on CBC's site and there's often some interesting stuff in there. This week a few of his "thoughts" were about Yzerman, and one noted that Yzerman was '"pulling back" in his hunt for goaltenders and defencemen." The piece presumed that teams were wanting picks/prospects for a goaltender (not broken down veteran for broken down veteran), but it speaks to the ethos in Tampa right now.

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#44 etownman
January 26 2012, 03:02PM
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Over the last 2 years the entire d-zone coverage has been brutal, not just the defencemen in front of the tenders! With a quality team in front of him, Khabibulan would be a good pick up in my opinion! It's a tough thing to pin mediocre numbers on Khabby when he hasn't had the best team possible play in front of him! I hope he does have an opportunity to play in the play-offs & show his stuff!

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#46 JB
January 26 2012, 03:04PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

He'd be no more than insurance for a handful of teams wanting some depth.

Wow, that's some pricey insurance. Thanks.

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#47 Time Travelling Sean
January 26 2012, 03:12PM
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Hemmer in a package to LA for Berneir and something? Sound reasonable? Stupid? Good move? :c

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#48 Souby
January 26 2012, 03:18PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Hemmer in a package to LA for Berneir and something? Sound reasonable? Stupid? Good move? :c

I'd be okay with that provided that the "and something" was good enough. Bernier is only 23 years old, so if the Oil could put better D-men infront of him, I think he could be a good fit.

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#49 Souby
January 26 2012, 03:25PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Given that Tampa Bay just passed on Antero Niittymaki, why would they take Khabibulin for anything?

Khabibulin makes almost $4.0 million next season, and has been a 0.902 SV% goalie for the Oilers. Since his first nine games, he's been a 0.899 SV% goalie.

He has negative value.

JW,

I know that Khabby has another year at a cap hit of $3.75 million ,but looking at the numbers for the goalies that Tampa currently has, Khabby has been better. I am not sure where you got the .902 SV%, but on NHL.com, his numbers are 30GP, 2.45 GAA and .918 SV%.

If the Oil had to take Roli back along with someone else to offset the $$$, don't you think a deal could be had here? It wouldn't be a blockbuster, but if the Oil could get a 3rd rounder in the deal, I think that would be good.

Just a thought...

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