Sunday, 22 January 2012

Trading Day - 1/5 Nikolai Khabibulin

First things first, let me preface this:

This is not a list of players that I want gone. This is a list of players that the Oilers will get a return for/the Oilers would be willing to trade.

The Lowdown
At first, it looked like this was going to be the year that Khabi broke down and gave the reigns to Dubnyk.
But after October, it looked like this was going to be the year, where Khabi poured vodka over his detractors and set them on fire and won the freaking Vezina.

Now, it looks like it might be the first. Again.

After a stellar showing, Khabi breaks down. Makes us play a game where we had no business playing in St. Louis, and then lets the whole team down with goals 3 and 4 last night in Calgary.

He hasn't won in the New Year. Then again, have we helped him?

The Pros
His GAA is through the roof for a (virtually) last place team. Without a semblance of defence, he has a 2.45 GAA. That's right, that's only 0.02 behind Pekka I-make-7-million-dollars Rinne and ahead of standouts like Mike Smith, Jose Theodore and Tomas Vokoun -- all playing on teams that are in the playoff hunt and considerably better than us.

His save percentage? 0.918, good for 18th in the league. Better than all-star Carey Price and usually all-star Roberto Luongo.

The Cons
His age and contract, previously considered the biggest problems to his movement. He's 39 now, and he's at the second last year of a hefty contract that pays him 3.75 million for a cap hit.

Not to mention the fact that Khabibulin still makes most games exciting in Edmonton. He's often (Read: St.Louis) the only reason that we have any chance in a game - trading that away means we're definitely heading in the direction Steve Tambellini said would not happen ... another first overall pick.

Beyond that, he's played poorly as of late - do you think he'd make it based on his previous season play alone?

Who's Talking?
Teams that - with solid goaltending - could actually win the freaking cup.

Don't shoot me, but I'm talking about Toronto (I know - don't break yourself laughing there), Winnipeg (see the Toronto note), and by all means lesser, Tampa.
Lol all you want. Fact is, they were second last when we drafted Hall.
Look where they are now.

Toronto - James Reimer would take them into the playoffs. But he's hurt. And a concussion isn't the kind of thing you can shake off - he's a significantly worse goaltender now than he was last year.
Toronto fans, watch him play and watch him during his worst games last year. You'll see the similarities.

Jonas Gustavsson is not the goalie of the future they were hoping he was. Watch the game last night against Montreal, the team that employs Scott Gomez to score goals. His short-side is wider than a Zamboni. And teams know that. They definitely do.

Toronto has solid defence, the most dangerous duo outside of the twins in Lupul and Kessel, and could actually do some damage in the playoffs.
The thing preventing them from getting there? A decent goaltender. Oh, and the lack of CapSpace.

Winnipeg - What a surprise - a quasi-successful rebuild. Yeah, yeah, you naysayers. It is, after all, Atlanta in silk stockings. They have a home-ice advantage now, that's got to mean something.

They have one of the league's unheralded superstars in Evander Kane. He's like Hall when he gets on the ice, you can't take your eyes off of him.
They have one of the league's underrated talents in Andrew Ladd. Horcoff should take notes from this guy, a talented leader, dammit!
They have Burmistrov, the epitome of an enigmatic Russian. Shows up one game, leaves the next.

What they don't have is quality goaltending, night in and night out.
Pavelec is decent, not fantastic. They need a legitimate starting goaltender, not an up-and-comer, to make the first round and beyond. 
Khabibulin might just be their guy - remember, he started his career there.

Tampa - this season is a write-off, just like ours, because the Eastern Conference is a lot less tight in comparison to the West.

But they have Stamkos, they have Hedman, they have St. Louis, they have Lecavalier. This team shouldn't suck. Hell, it almost made the big dance last year. Could Khabi do it? It would improve over Roloson...

Possible Trades?
For his age and contractual size, don't expect the moon. And if I know Tambellini, he's not shopping him for some reason about pride and yatta yatta- one of the other reasons the chump needs to be fired.

But let's look arbitrarily. Big deal time.

Toronto: Nikolai Khabibulin, Curtis Hamilton and a third round pick for Jussi Rynnäs, Mike Komisarek, Cody Franson and a conditional second round pick in 2012. (Condition being a place in the conference finals). Blockbuster

Why? The only player who's proven anything for either team is Khabibulin. Hamilton is a sacrifice, a great prospect. The pick is for Toronto - they don't have many. We have Los Angeles'.
Komisarek is a flash in the pan and a salary dump. 
The real deal is for Jussi Rynnäs, quite the good goaltending prospect that's ready to make an impact now, and Cody Franson, a decent prospect who's found himself in the doghouse in T.O too many times and wants out.

Winnipeg: Nikolai Khabibulin and a second round pick for Ondrej Pavelec and Paul Postma. Likeliest

Why? Goalie swap at the top --> Winnipeg gets the goalie to win now. That's a steep price, but Khabibulin has been an elite goaltender on a crappy team. That's the kind of return we're looking at.

Tampa Bay: Nikolai Khabibulin for Eric Brewer and picks.

Why? Former players go home to the places where they had the most success - Khabi had a cup here, and Brewer was a Top-2 defenceman here.

Beyond that, we better be getting picks.

Trade or no trade?
His value is never going to be higher.
TRADE. Thanks for the year, Khabi, and best of luck where you go. May you assist the rebuild by not being here.

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