Get rid of Nikolai Khabibulin? Perish the thought Jonathan Willis!
Our esteemed colleague wrote a convincing article this morning suggesting the Oilers buy out the contract of Nikolai Khabibulin and sign Tomas Vokoun to tend the pipes for the team. We don’t often disagree with Willis on much, particularly because we aren’t too fond of being wrong, but in this instance we have to question the timing of the strategy.
First of all, we don’t disagree that Khabibulin has performed far below expectations when the Oilers signed him to the 99 year $135B contract. Nor do we disagree with the idea Vokoun is a good goalie – the numbers Willis has dug up suggests he may be considerably underrated as NHL goalies go. Finally his calculation that the Oilers could "steal back" 6 1/2 wins next season by replacing the Bulin Wall with Vokoun hold water with our brain banana.
This just doesn’t strike us as the time to pull the trigger on better goaltending. In fact at this stage of the rebuild – year one if you listen to Oilers brass, year five if you listen to your heart – it could be detremental to the cause.
GET THEM FACTS STRAIGHT
The Oilers are a good 8 players away from doing much beyond "making fans sad by November on an annual basis." With goaltending as crappy as the Oilers currently sport – with all due respect to those involved – there are a great many goaltenders that can fit the bill in a few years when the Oilers are ready to give us all a playoff thrill*
We whole heartedly agree that the Oilers are riddled with holes. But offering a "three-year, $12.0-million offer" on a goalie who is 35 – albeit Vokoun is a 35 year old goalie who is continuing to perform at a high level – this early in the rebuilding process is not the answer.
This is replicating the move the Oilers made when they signed Khabibulin – when clearly they had better intentions for solving the riddle in net and signed the wrong guy. An older goalie with 4-5 years left in the tank at maximum is not what the young Oilers need – particularly for that much smoke. Salaries should be shed not added until the Oilers are left with the corps they want to build around.
A goalie can be added later on.
*Get ready WanyeLiver circa 2014