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.



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

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Hall is going to be a very good player.
    Seguin is going to be a very good player.

    Years into the future, we may be able to look back and say that ultimately Seguin turned into the better player (or maybe not). However, at the time that the pick was made, Hall was the right choice.

    And, ultimately, it looks like a 1 and 1A situation, similar to Stamkos and Doughty. I don’t think that you would regret either one.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I’m glad Seguin is succeding and I’m sure he’ll be a top notch NHL’er, maybe even a top 10 center. But lets keep a little perspective right now. His 2 game pace would put him as the undisputed best player in history….. obviously he isn’t maintaining this.

    I think we’ve seen enough of Hall to realize we’ve got at least a 35/75 guy and probably more like a 40+/85+ guy.

    For Seguin to have a wide enough gap on those numbers(40+/85+) to make it a slam dunk that we picked the wrong guy, he’d end up being one of the best players of his generation.

    I’m confident that isn’t going to be the case.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      It’s not just about points but role.

      The Oilers don’t have a #1C and even if they pick RNH and he performs as projected, they are 2-3 years away from having a credible top line.

      In the meantime, while Nero fiddles, years and years are being burnt off ELC’s.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Sure it is.

          You have a #1C who can play in the NHL as opposed to one who will likely need another year in junior and a year in the AHL before he’s even a rookie.

          If you’re on the 6 year rebuild train, it might turn out okay, but Hall and Eberle will be getting close to UFA status by then.

          How do you think they’ll react to another 5 years out of the playoffs?

          • I was very happy with Hall this past year, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a #1 C is more valuable than a #1 LW. Even Ovechkin cant win in the playoffs if his centreman doesnt show up to play.

            All we need, however, is RNH to pan out as a legit 1C and there need not be any regret if Seguin turns into a Star.

            *continues to shake hornet’s nest

      • VMR

        Yes, wont anybody think of the poor ELC’s!!!

        Most overrated, meaningless topic of discussion on any hockey board. Oh knoes the poor ELC’s have been used up and now we actually have to pay our top players. BooHoo!!

        Oh and just to add Seguin isnt a #1 center. He’s #5 on Boston and only in because of injury. He put up some points last night sure but that doesnt make him a #1 center yet anymore than Fernando Pisani’s run in 2006 suddenly made him a top line winger.

          • VMR

            Right because keeping guys in the minors long past the time they are ready to play in the NHL is the only possible way to manage the cap. Damn, and I’d thought we could manage it by signing players to decent contracts, not overpaying has beens, avoiding boneheaded mistakes like not filing the paperwork correctly, and finding other areas to save money like cheap and decent 3rd and 4th line talent.

            Oh well, I guess we’re doomed.

  • 24% body fat

    I haven’t read this thread yet so this may be off topic.

    Since the season ended there have been plenty of articles written with respect to our goaltending situation all of which seem to be coming to similar conclusions and discussions except using the draft to solidify our future in goal.

    Don’t sign another aging goalie, reduce NK to 20-30 games while riding DD until our goalie of the future is ready to take on 20-30 and eventually replace DD.

    Although I would still take the opportunity to use LAs pick to move up (doubtful), if we don’t I would seriously look at drafting one of the following goalies:

    Christopher Gibson, 6.01, 198lbs, 0.920 sv%, on a bad Q team

    John Gibson, 6.03, 205lbs, 0.926sv%, ranked #1 goalie by CSS

    Depending on who’s still available and whether or not any of these goalies have already been picked up should determine if we target a goalie with our #19 or #31 pick.

  • CanaDave

    I knew there would be talk about Seguin being the greatest thing since sliced bread #2 here after that performance tonight, but I was looking at it from the other way, what if Hall was on the Bruins right now? Just my opinion, but he’d probably have played in more than 2 playoff games by now.

    Seguin is going to be a great player, but I think there’s at least a little to be said about the fact he’s played 10 less games then just about everyone else in the series.

    As far as the goalie situation goes, I like that Renney has to this point made Dubnyk earn it. I’m sure that if he puts together a stretch of great play next year that he’ll get more opportunities to take the job, but he’s going to have to play better than .500 hockey to get that chance.

  • Two things:

    1. I think all this Seguinmania has shown us is that not only was I right in ghost riding the Seguin wagon last summer, but more seriously, that we would have been fine with either one of those kids. Like gongshow said it’s most likely going to be a 1/1A scenario rather than a “OHMYGOD I CAN’T BELIEVE WE DRAFTED THE WRONG GUY!” scenario. Love me some Taylor Hall, and it’s going to be incredibly fun for everybody to watch these kids take over the league.


    #ThankYouKessel #HashTagJokes

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    count me in as part of the “clay makes sense” group.

    Mr. dithers must burden some of the responsibilty for creating a winning/competitive hockey team. oh the burden!

    shortly the only draft i wish to speak of is the stuff that comes from a tap.

    move along mr. dithers move along…

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    After the Oilers end up eating Souray’s contract, I’m hoping that the Oilers go the Cristobal Huet route and convince him to play in Europe or Russia for a year and take the cap hit until buyout conditions are more favorable next year.

    If Khaby plays decently overseas and a team gets interested in taking his millstone contract off our necks, so much the better, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Also, our goalie acquisition shouldn’t be a full-time guy, rather one who can back up and mentor Dubnyk.

  • John Chambers

    Really? I’m going to enjoy stepping on the podium to select 1st overall this year. I’m going to enjoy it again next year as well.

    Then I think we should turn this ugly ship around. But how long has it been since we’ve been able to boast players of Hall and RNH’s calibre? That’s how you become a competitive team – a few years of suffering followed by a decade of winning.

    Keep Khabibulin. Nothing could be finer than another year of ELPH supported by a whole bunch of barnburner 6-4 losses.

    I mean really if stayed healthy and our goalie was named Tomas Vokoun, we’d be drafting 8th. Don’t tell me you’d be that excited about Ryan Murphy.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I think “tanking” is a legit strategy to aquire elite talent (though not without it’s risks) however the question is, how long do we have to do it without showing ANY progress?

      Based on the elite teams of the last 4-5 years, it’s seems most get 2 maybe 3 top 5 picks… we’re basicaly almost there!

      Now, keeping in mind we can go a loooooong way in the W colum and still be picking top 5 next year so……

      It’s probably time to start accumulating the support pieces for when Hall is ready to pop 40 goals.

  • Hemmertime

    I disagree with Wanye. Vokoun has at least 3 good years left in him, and probably 5 more if he wants in the NHL. He has only been a starter 7 or 8 years and FLA and NSH have not run him ragged playing 70 games a year. He hasnt topped 63 in the last 3 yrs.

    Vokoun has been a top 3-5 goalie for years in the NHL. And its sad seeing Wanye so used to failure he’s accepted it for next year already.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    A lot on the Goal situation but in the end it comes down to if what we can sign to replace Habbi makes sense in the Dubnyk situation. Signing Gerber to one year would be perfect. On the great two games by Mr. Seguin he has been flying a bit under the radar and playing against the weaker part of the Tampa team I suspect he will be getting much higher quality attention very soon. I am not saying that he is not playing very well but if he does even the pace he had in the first game he would assure a finals appearance for Boston and then a Stanley Cup in all likely hood, maybe even the MVP. I really don’t see that happening. Kind of reminds me of the first rookie season for Gags, Nilsson and Cogs they were playing far down the roster often against players of lesser skill. Teams soon caught on that they needed a bit more attention and we all know how that has gone. Not to say that his skills are equal to those three but just that more concentrated attention will cause those numbers to drop. BUT I will have to admit that Toronto blew it on that trade and Boston is one happy customer on RFA signings.

  • We all seem to be forgetting that the Oil have been annihilated with injuries the last two years.

    A healthy Hemsky and Whitney would sure go a long way to improving results. Add a couple of skill players through the draft and maybe one or two through trade/free agency and there is no reason not to (at least from a die hard fan’s perspective) expect them to improve drastically on this past year’s result. Winning some games would go a long way to ending the conversation about burning up ELC’s.

    PS – Get rid of Fraser and Khabibulin. Keep playing Omark.

  • When are Oilers seriously going to go after a support caste for our draftees ? Almost seems like we going draftee route only for next 4-5 years , assessing then where they are at at that time before even addressing voids or a supporting caste .

    In the interim , i guess we just wait for contacts to expire on people like Souray , Khabby , Hemsky , etc.. Who knows with any certainty if any of current staff will be part of team at that point .

    Can we afford to build a competitive team on ice , when we have have so many waiting in line to purchase season tickets to watch us be losers ? Seems to me it’s more beneficial financially to keep rebuiding a losing team or bottom dweller . Back when we were a power , we had a harder time filling building than we do now . Depends on how you view/slant competitive i guess .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That 19 yr old kid for the Bruins just turned up the heat on the Oilers. If Tambellini and Lowe think Taylor Hall is going to wait another 3 yrs to get a taste of what Tyler’s getting now, they’re terribly mistaken.

    If the Oilers “lay up” and continue on this snails pace progress, Hall will want out of Edmonton by the end of his ELC. Katz has to get a grip of things here before Kevin and Steve drive this franchise facefirst into the mud.

    If ever Taylor Hall is questioning Edmontons commitment to winning or even a minimal level of compete, this is that day.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I agree that their is risk of alianating your top players by losing to long to long, but you go way overboard.

      Their have been lots of good to great players that don’t get a taste of the PO for 2-3-4 years and don’t bolt from their team.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        This is Edmonton Obbie, if hope is 3-4 yrs away, why should he hang around when others are saying, call me in three or four yrs when you’re ready then.

        The motor is in place here now (Taylor Hall) get these kids help now before they start to wander. No committment to winning…..why even consider Edmonton as a place of employment in the NHL. The Oilers will fail miserably if they think they can milk this rebuild gig for yet another 2 or 3 yrs.

        I may consistantly come across as impatient or brash in some of my wishful ramblings this year Obbie, am i really that far off the mark?

          • VMR

            Exactly, it’s not like there’s any way he can get out of here until he’s a UFA and that wont be happening for 6 years. He’s no dummy, he knew (or should have at least) that this wasnt going to be a quick turnaround.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Oh he can get out of here tomorrow if he wanted.

            I’d just bet on history, and history tells us the vast majority of players stick around for 4-5-6 years before pulling stuff like that.

        • Wax Man Riley

          There is no way the Oil can contend for the cup this year, and probably not next year. It is the reality. Hall isn’t a cup-winning player yet. Eberle (sorry Wanye) or PRV aren’t cup-winning players yet.

          There would have to be a complete overhaul of every player on this team in the next 3 months in order for the Oil to compete for the cup and that just won’t happen.

          The reality is that it will take time no matter what happens. Unless they somehow sign Crosby, Ovechkin, Doughty, Lidstrom and Datsyuk, the Oilers are a while away.

          There aren’t the UFA’s on the market to get that done and we don’t have the assets to trade in order to get that done. So building internally is the answer.

          That being said. Those kids need some support. They need to know what it is like to win in the NHL, and to at least compete for that playoff spot in March, so the next season they are better equipped to actually make it there.

          Hall, Eberle, PRV et al. need to be taught how to win in this league. MacIntyre won’t be able to teach that, Gilbert doesn’t know. Gagner doesn’t know how, Cogliano doesn’t know how, Foster doesn’t know how.

          They need some real NHL player to help them get there until they can be the ones to take the reins and win.

          The winning won’t happen this year though.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I love the fact that Tyler Seg. torched the game sheet last night. Knowing Taylor Hall and his compete level/hatred of losing. I will bet money he watched Tyler notch his 4pt and then proceeded to do bare knuckled P 90X push up on broken glass until the Sun came up. Hall refuses to lose, and hates being second place in anything. If you think Seg’s performance hasn’t lit a fire and made the man dedicate himself to being better, you’re not listening when Hall speaks. I love it.

  • SurfacetoAirMissile

    If only it was that easy…. just wave your magic wand and make every contract disappear and then you can “get rid” of every player to underperform. Or maybe other teams don’t have any cap issues or budget concerns…. it is just a rumour, so they would be tickled to take a bad contract off our hands. Perhaps Katz just got lucky in becoming a billionare and he has no skills in economics i.e just buy everyone out that you don’t want on your team, reguardless of the size of contract and length of term (bye bye Horc) AbraCadabra… poof … AHL team filled with young prospects knocking on the door of the NHL developing at record pace because the big club has no injury issues and players can have time to develop. This just in…. the Edmonton Oilers trade the Bulin Wall, Fraser, Foster and Cogs to the Anaheim Ducks for Perry and Getlaf…. Wow the ducks sure pulled one over on the old Oilers….. some of you back seat drivers need to give your head a shake.