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.

  • @BUCK75

    Would Turco not be worth looking into? I have watched him destroy us in more games than I care to remember, he has a great compete level and would be great to mentor some of the young guys like JDD and Dubnyk. At least learning from Marty they would get to see how to stay in the game compete be a team guy and not how to hang out for massie amounts of time on the DL!

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I can't see Turco getting all that much more then Bulin, but I agree that he probably isn't the answer. Unless you deem both JDD and DD as guys that aren't going to be NHL ready ever, there really isn't a reason to acquire another vet goalie.

    • Twiggs

      Turco would be worth looking into in terms of being a skilled vetran, but how do you bring him on board? With Khabi's boat anchor of a contract unless you could get some one to take him (good luck) we couldn't afford to give Turco a decent offer.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Whoever does the poll question should have a poll question asking how many Bulin threads there will be by the start of next year.

    • Bar Qu

      I personally find it hard to understand that people still defend the signing. He has back problems, historically, and then he goes down with a back injury this year (admittedly worse than in previous years). This should be a vindication of the concerns that were raised last summer, and not simply be brushed aside as a fluke.

      And we all know from watching other players with back problems that those problems get worse as they get older (Lemieux anyone?). I don't think there's anyway we see 30 games from Steve's Ol' Reliable this season either.

      The question around Khabi should be, does Tambellini get fired next summer for running the team into 30th place two years in a row (on the 'back' of his premier signing).

  • @ Fiveandagame:

    Yeah, that's a concern in some cases. Brodeur, for instance, doesn't deserve the 'injury-prone' label, since almost all of his games missed happened in one season.

    For the guys at the top, however, I think this is a fair exercise. In Khabibulin's case, prior to this season he missed 17 games a year, now he's up to 25.

    • Eric Johnson

      Fair enough. I would agree that the higher the number, regardless of how many injuries be it one or 10, would still not give you a lot of confidence in the players over all health.

  • Eric Johnson

    I have a guestion though. Is it fair to average out games missed over multiple seasons?

    A player can go four out of five seasons with 82 games played MIss one season due to a bad knee injury and average 16.4 games lost to injury per season.

    I would say that stat is misleading to the players durability. Cause you could say the player is a risk and will likely be unable to play 20% of the time.

  • Any chance that we can get rid of this guy? I may get totally thrown under the bus here but, What about Marty Turco? If he has fallen out of love with Dallas and they with him, and the price were right? Too old? Not relaible anymore? Worth a phone call to check?