Most Injury Prone Starters In The NHL, Redux

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

I did this article last summer when people were wondering how durable new signing Nikolai Khabibulin was relative to the average starting goaltender. In yesterday’s piece, I was told that Khabibulin shouldn’t be considered injury-prone, since he’s only had one major injury in the last five years. I disagree, and I have proof.

I’ll employ the same list of players as last season, so some of the younger starters (Tuukka Rask, for instance) aren’t on this list, which counts total games missed due to injury since the NHL lockout. As before, I’ve excluded flu and personal reasons from the games missed list.

  • Pascal Leclaire: 145 games (back, left knee, knee, left knee, hamstring, neck, right thumb, ankle, ankle, broken jaw, concussion)
  •  Kari Lehtonen: 145 games (groin, sprained ankle, groin, back, upper body, back surgery)
  • Rick DiPietro: 138 games (concussion, knee, groin, lower body, neck, headache, knee, hip, knee, knee, groin, right knee, knee)
  • Nikolai Khabibulin: 127 games (groin, knee, finger, knee, back, lower body, lower body, lower body, back)
  • Vesa Toskala: 57 games (groin, groin, groin, groin, groin, groin, hip, hip, knee, groin)
  • Martin Brodeur: 56 games (right knee, left elbow)
  • Ray Emery: 54 games (wrist, wrist, abdominal, groin)
  • Mike Smith: 50 games (concussion, arm, knee, post-concussion, neck)
  • Cristobal Huet: 44 games (knee, hamstring, groin, back)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury: 42 games (ankle, lower body, broken finger)
  • Cam Ward: 38 games (knee, groin, lacerated leg, upper body)
  • Ryan Miller: 35 games (thumb, lower body, left ankle)
  • Roberto Luongo: 33 games (knee, rib, groin, ribs)
  • Evgeni Nabokov: 32 games (shoulder, groin, groin, abdominal, groin, lower body, lower body)
  • Jose Theodore: 32 games (knee, heel, hip, knee, back, hip, back, lower body)
  • Tomas Vokoun: 29 games (knee, thumb, ankle, back, ear)
  • Chris Osgood: 23 games (groin, hand, finger, groin)
  • Ilya Bryzgalov: 17 games (groin, groin, back)
  • Niklas Backstrom: 13 games (lower body, groin, back, groin)
  • Carey Price: 12 games (lower body injury, groin)
  • Steve Mason: 9 games (knee, mononucleosis)
  • Henrik Lundqvist: 7 games (hip)
  • Tim Thomas: 6 games (lower body)
  • Marty Turco: 5 games (lower body, neck, lower body)
  • Chris Mason: 4 games (groin)
  • Jonas Hiller: 4 games (back)
  • Craig Anderson: 4 games (neck)
  • Pekka Rinne: 0 games missed, 113 GP
  • Jonathan Quick: 0 games missed, 116 GP
  • Miikka Kiprusoff: 0 games missed, 373 GP

The point to all this should be obvious. Since the NHL lockout, Nikolai Khabibulin has averaged a little over 25 games per season out of the line-up with a series of injuries, and given that he’s 38 years old there is no reason whatsoever to expect his health situation to improve. Even before this year he was one of the five most injury-prone goalies in the post-lockout NHL; as it stands he’s in that elite category (Leclaire, Lehtonen, DiPietro, and Khabibulin) who have missed more than 100 games.

When someone says that Khabibulin is durable, they’re either lying to the listener or lying to themselves or just plain ignorant of the facts. There is no doubt that Nikolai Khabibulin’s health is going to be a key story – perhaps the biggest story – in the Oilers’ on-ice success for as long as he’s under contract.

  • VMR

    I would love to know if deep down, Tambellini knows he screwed up the Khabibulin deal. Is he standing by his goalie because he's trying to save face? Or does he genuinely, truly believe that Khabi is the answer and his last injury is a fluke?

    I'd be much happier with a blowhard than an idiot…

  • Offthebandwagon

    Why is it necessary to send Dubnyk down to the minors? At this point, what's the problem with keeping all three goalies on the roster? I mean, its not like a "three-headed goalie monster" ala Roloson, Garon, and Deslauriers would keep the team from competing. Send each goalie for a conditioning stint, give Dubnyk and JDD 20 games each and a conditioning stint for development, and protect Khabibulin from being overworked. It may be necessary to leave MPP/Eberle in the AHL for most of next year to free up contract space, but so what–no rush on these guys.

  • Offthebandwagon

    Wow is this news? It was a bad signing last year and it's still a bad signing this year. Management dropped the ball on that deal, amongst other things. Is/Was Tambo really in charge of this ship? He comes across like a shady politician, not like a manager who knows what he's doing. He has spent most of his tenure as GM putting the spin on things, and eventually the list will pile up and guys like Willis will make sure he's accountable.

  • VMR

    I say keep Dubbie! That would be my personal preference. But JDD needs one more year. If the Oilers could arrange a deal to put Dubbie in OC for a year, depending on how JDD does next year, then make your decisions then. Not totally sure of what the situation is now but the Oilers need both guys.

  • Pajamah

    Other than Khabibulins major injury this season, his totals are acceptable, especially considering at his age, he should likely only get 60 games anyways.

    Still an elite goalie, and for less than 4mill for 60 games is fine with me