Khabibulin To Have Surgery

The Edmonton Oilers have finally announced what we all suspected was going to happen: Nikolai Khabibulin will undergo surgery to repair the herniated disc in his back.

I don’t really have all that much to say at this juncture.  I’ve contended that this was a poor signing from day one, for a variety of reasons, despite the popular acclaim that Tambellini received around these parts for finally dumping that cantankerous old Roloson and adding a Stanley cup-winning goalie.

Last week I referenced a Pat Quinn comment – that Khabibulin went through something similar last season in Chicago – and concluded the following:

This is about risk management. Had Steve Tambellini signed Khabibulin to a one-year contract, I couldn’t argue forcefully that he’d made a poor decision; it would have been a short-term bet on a player coming off a fine season. If Khabibulin’s performance wasn’t all that good, or a long-term injury issue popped up, come summer the Oilers would have been free and clear.

Tambellini didn’t sign Khabibulin to a one-year contract. He signed him to a four-year contract, despite the player’s age and injury history. It was a reckless move that showed an utter inability to effectively manage risks – and despite Tambellini’s rather short time at the helm, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if it turned out to be a move that led to his dismissal.

My opinion hasn’t changed since then; this was an egregious error on the part of the general manager and it, combined with his other errors, has left me with absolutely no confidence that Tambellini can turn this franchise around. Say what you will about Kevin Lowe; he never iced the worst team in the Western Conference.

Anyone interested in a rehash of the other reasons this was such a poor signing can read any or all of the links below:

  • A Bad Day/Where Do We Go From Here: July 1
  • The Official 2009 NHL Free Agent Thread: July 1
  • A Loser Move For A Loser Franchise: July 1
  • Loser Move, Part II: July 1
  • Relentless Incompetence: July 3
  • As The Dust Clears: July 10
  • NHL Games Missed Due To Injury Since The Lockout: July 12
  • Building A Tandem: July 23
  • The (Almost) top 50 Goalies Over The Last Three Seasons: July 23
  • Most Injury-Prone Starters in the NHL: July 24
  • The Goalie Market And Excuses: July 25
  • Testing Ken Holland: July 26
  • The Best Goalies Since The Lockout: July 28
  • Yet Another Angle on Khabibulin: July 29
  • At Least He’s Not Likely To Play On Any Warm Days: September 24
  • Is The President 90 Feet Tall: December 13
  • Fool Me Once: December 16
  • Other Than That, How Did You Enjoy The Play, Mrs. Lincoln: December 19

Signing Khabibulin was a bad decision.  The fact that it was a bad decision was painfully obvious from the moment it was announced.  It’s a decision that should probably cost Steve Tambellini his job.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Nah, not all of it. most, but not all.

      only a handful of goalie play 65+ games (6 last year, 10 the year before). "premium" money would be 5 – 6 million per year, the team gave average money and should have been looking for average production.

      Bulin played in 18 of the first 21 games (a 70 game pace). Expecting him to play 70 games is ridiculous.

      Sitting out another 3-4 games to start the year may or may not have saved his back. But playing him that often certainly didn't help.

      That falls on coaching.

    • Dyckster

      na, leave him be- the $7 million dollar invisible man is doing just fine. Can't win face-offs, little to no scoring, worst plus minus and does'nt hit. We may improve some what if we replace him…..

      • Ender

        I was all about sending Horc in for surgery next as well until I read this. There is something in Kevin's point. Might be better to wait until Horc starts to turn things around and become a force before taking him out of the line-up. Thus, you keep the DFF healthy now as well as providing a contingency plan to deal with any possible resurgent optimism among the players later. Win-Win.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    There is no way that is a bad signing. Yes he is aged… But you cannot say that he wasn't playing to the value of his contract prior to the injury. If he career is done, you have free cap space to sign another UFA goalie.

    Everyone is pining for Roloson but he is 40 and if he got injured I am sure the blogs would be filled with the cry of it being a bad signing.

    They chose the best goalie available and he was doing the job, injury was unfortunate. Injury risk something every player faces, you can't hedge against that.

          • The market value is what someone is willing to pay. I agree the market value for Khabby was higher than we'd all like, because he was about the ONLY legitimate cup-winning #1 starter, but it was still the market value. We just happened to sign him when the market was pretty limited.

          • The market value is what someone is willing to pay. I agree the market value for Khabby was higher than we'd all like, because he was about the ONLY legitimate cup-winning #1 starter, but it was still the market value. We just happened to sign him when the market was pretty limited.

          • We signed him day 1 of Free agency, right after Roli went. Roli was signed for 2.5 for 2 years. If anything that was the bar that set the market before we signed Khabby, 1 mil more for Khabby over Roli? Fair in my eyes. After day 1 market value for goalies dropped. We couldn't know how cheap goalies would go for (even though market was flooded) so we went out and paid what we thought we would need to to get the best goalie that was UFA. The length was bad, but dollar figure seems fine for Khabby.

        • homerer

          By that logic Horcoff's contract was determined by the market, as well as Pisani's, Penner's (up until this year), and Souray's. Really do I need to continue? The market gives a range that it likely ideal for a player. Who ever gives the contract doesn't have to abide by those rules and can offer whatever they want. Which is why this is a bad contract.

          • Yes, they were all determined by the market. If you've got less labour that wants to come work in your city, you're going to wind up paying more. There is the same labour demand in each of the 30 cities, but less supply for Edmonton than say, Detroit, or New York, or LA… There are no rules that say you can only pay a certain type of player only so much, that's not how markets work. There is a salary max and a salary min, and all the teams have to work within that framework, and it's up to them how to divide it up from there.

    • Dyckster

      Read the article again, we willingly signed an injury prone, aged tender for FOUR YEARS. JW indicated knowing everything we did at the time a 1 year deal made more sense. History suggested he was going to get hurt….a lot. Why commit all the time and resources? Plus you don't sign a guy on the hopes he gets permanently injured. You can hedge against injury if the past suggests as much.

    • Dyckster

      I agree with everything you said except the part of "best goalie available." Clearly Craig Anderson would had been a better and cheaper acquistion. It's unfortunate the Avs have a better goalie scout than the Oil.

    • Nobody signed Roli to a long term deal.

      I'd rather have taken Roli at two years that Khabby at this debacle. I've said that all along.

      Is Khabby better than Roli? Absolutely when healthy this is a slam dunk. Would signing Roli to a 2 year deal been better for the team? Absolutely.

  • Chamucks Deluxe

    Gosh darn, it's like a slowly progressing drunken stupor all season; my display picture keeps looking better and better. And so do my odds of sleeping wi- errr.. Yeah.

  • Willis, I do agree with you. However, if you were trying to convince Dany Heatley to play for your team and you had JDD and Dubnyk as your starting goalie tandem, you might make a move for the biggest name goalie available too.

    Signing Khabby CAN'T be analyzed in a bubble, because the decision wasn't made in a bubble.

    Maybe it should have been, but it wasn't.

  • @ AO if he retires his salary still counts against our cap. The best hope is that he sits on LTIR and can't play if you want to look at it that way.

    I thought it was a lateral move and wasn't sold on the contract. Now, I'm hoping he gets well and can earn the remaining three years of his deal.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Steve Tambellini should lose his job, he pretty much did nothing to improve the Oil roster to compete in our tight division since he has been here. Kevin Lowe should hit the bricks too.

  • Offthebandwagon

    JW: Is Khabibulin's contract going to be a cap hit even if he retires due to the injury? Isn't his age a factor? I thought if a player over 35 retires, his salary is still considered cap hit to discourage teams from signing players to long-term contracts with front-loaded salaries. In other words, we're screwed are we not?

  • Bob Cobb

    Well apparently Halak is coming to Edmonton, along with the Kostitsyn brothers, for one of Souray and Stortini, or Cogliano or Smid. Its from Eklund and is considered to be done but Eklund is an idiot who lacks common sense something I have realized isn't as common as I once thought.

    • Where'd you see that? All I see is…

      A source has told me that Halak (plus a draft pick) could be heading to Edmonton and that Cogliano and Jeff Petry (Michigan State D-man) could be headed to Montreal

      Not that it makes it any more credible.

  • Victoria

    The day after Roloson gets a shutout and improves to a 18-7-6 record…with the Islanders.

    I thought last season was embarrassing for Oilers fans, I though we hit rock bottom. It sucks being wrong.