Edmonton Oilers: Nikolai Khabibulin Injury Puts Even More Pressure On Devan Dubnyk
Despite having a roster that features some of the best young talent in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers are sporting a 7-7-4 record and sit third in the Northwest Division. The Oilers have struggled to score regularly and have had a questionable situation between the pipes exposed by many of the Western Conference’s top teams. After a strong performance by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons during the lockout, the lack of scoring is puzzling. After young goalie Devan Dubnyk started off February with a 1-2-2 record, the team turned to veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to start four of its last five games. Khabibulin was 2-1-1 over that stretch but suffered a groin injury in Monday’s overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers have placed him on injured reserve and recalled Yann Danis from the AHL.
It was expected that Dubnyk would be the starter this season, and he now needs to find a way to elevate his play while Khabibulin is out. Danis has only made one relief appearance this season, and 51 appearances in his career (16-21-4). Dubnyk is 5-5-3 on the season and an Oilers team that is desperate for points needs the 26-year-old to show he is truly ready to not only be an NHL No. 1, but lead a team towards the postseason as well. With Khabibulin in the final year of his contract and most likely looking toward retirement given his age (40), the Oilers could be in the market to trade for a more proven netminder during the season or in the summer, depending on how Dubnyk performs the rest of the season.