The day Edmonton signed Nikolai Khabibulin, I said we should consider it an overpay. I also said "don’t like the money and don’t like the terms. I’m completely fine with the goalie, he’s always been a favorite of mine." If the Oilers had signed Khabibulin to a 2-year deal, it would have been fine with me. As it turned, the first two years were filled with stories bad and worse, injuries great and small, and the humbling of a pro athlete.
From here, it looks to me as though Nikolai Khabibulin is planning on repaying the Oilers and their fans in full for that contract. With interest.
Nikolai Khabibulin is defying gravity, pushing the envelope, boldly going, well you get the point. Historically, men his age shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. SInce 1979, the expansion that brought the Oilers into the NHL, here’s a list of goalies NK’s age and older and their stats:
That’s the list in 30+ seasons since the WHA expansion, that’s according to hockey-reference (>1GP). Guys Khabibulin’s age are pretty much done, especially the ones with lots of miles on them. Roloson is a bit of a freak on the list in that he wasn’t a starter for many years, and a quick glance at the years active suggests that only Rollie and Dom hung around awhile.
WHAT’S THE FUTURE HOLD?
Logic dictates that Khabibulin won’t be able to keep up this pace, even through the end of the season. Ten games is not a big sample size and overuse and injury are certainly possible, even probable.
SO HE’S ON BORROWED TIME?
Probably, but hey let’s enjoy it while we can. The reality is in the graph above from hockey-reference, and the other reality is that a pro hockey goalie has a strong desire to be remembered for something other than activities on Super Bowl Sunday. Nikolai Khabibulin is a proud guy, and at some level he’s gaining back his reputation through outstanding play. I don’t know how long his body can stand up to it, but history tells us never to bet against a pro athlete with something to prove via strong motivation.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Enjoy the view. Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Nation Radio is on the air today at noon (Team 1260, link to the right). Among the guests scheduled to appear:
- Jim Byers from the OKC Barons. The team’s pbp man is a great resource for Oiler fans interesting in the goings on with the farm club. I’ll ask about the team’s record breaking win streak and the early MVP this season.
- Dennis King from everywhere. We’ll talk about his scoring chance measurement (what counts, what doesn’t), the information he gathers from those advanced stats and how he applied them. King has a good mind for these things, I’m looking forward to his thoughts on SC and the Oilers in 11-12.
- Derek Blasutti from C&B. Dawgbone has always been an interesting read no matter where he posts, but his exceptional instructional items at Copper and Blue are music to my ears. I’ll ask Derek about how he sees the game, why the Oilers frustrate him (it’s only a two hour show so we won’t get too far into that) and if he’s ever heard of Howie Meeker.
- James Mirtle is a stand up guy and a brilliant writer. Why is he a stand up guy? Well, years ago I linked my blog to his blog, and now even though he writes for the national fishwrap he still takes my calls on his busiest day of the week. I’ve been in media since most of you were in diapers and can tell you it’s rare thing. Plus he’s a smart guy.
- Kent Wilson from the Nations. Kent is a regular on the show and we’ll talk Flames but also discuss a new project called NHL NUMBERS PODCAST. Great information available in episode 1 and more to come, I’ll ask him about future projects.
Email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can tweet @ItsNationRadio or @Lowetide_ with comments and questions. Hope you can join us.