In what is sure to be a summer of change for the Edmonton Oilers, with a new general manager taking over, one of their veterans could very well be on his way out. Not that the fact that Nikolai Khabibulin has wore out his welcome with the club should come as any sort of surprise.
Khabibulin had a rough 2013 campaign, just as most of these Oilers did. He was actually pretty decent when he was in net, but it was staying in net that was the issue. Injuries limited him to only 12 appearances, and 11 starts, during the regular season. He hasn’t started more than 50 games since the 2006-2007 season.
His time in Edmonton has been much of what it was in 2013. It’s been a tenure that has been ravaged by injury and disappointment. It doesn’t help that the Oilers have been a pretty miserable club for much of that time. Nor does the fact that Khabibulin stands on the cusp of calling it a career.
Khabibulin turned 40 at the beginning of this year. He’s old, he’s injury prone, and he’s not consistent enough that he could start a stretch of games for the Oilers like they’d like him to, in the even that Devan Dubnyk struggles or goes down with an injury. Which means it’s likely the end of his time in Edmonton.
Craig MacTavish, the Oilers’ new GM, was pretty blunt about the fact that Khabibulin is old and injury prone, and that the franchise essentially wants no part of that. And that’s very understandable for a team trying to get back into the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see if teams take a chance on Khabibulin out on the market. He could end up getting a shot to compete for a backup job in training camp, but unless he can manage to prove that he’s healthy and still capable of competing at a decent level, he could have a hard time finding a job outside of Edmonton.