Roundtable Question: Nikolai Khabibulin, Oklahoma City & Buyouts

Nikolai Khabibulin still has the backing of the Oilers' management and Tom Renney still isn't sure what he's going to do about the opening night starting goaltender.  He said he wasn't sure after watching Khabibulin give up three goals on seven shots to a split squad Chicago Blackhawks team.  He's got the backing of management even though he's rarely performed like an average NHL goaltender, let alone one deserving a $15 million contract.  But if he falters again and looks as bad as he did last season, will management finally see the error of their ways?

Is there a possibility that Khabibulin might be waived?

Our lineup this time includes Pat, from Black Dog Hates Skunks, the blogosphere's version of David Mamet, Jeff Chapman, the big brain behind Oil On Whyte, Shepso and BCB, the philosopher kings from Bringing Back The Glory, Jerconjake, the insightful man behind Oil Acumen, Smokin' Ray, the only man covering the Oilers, Barons and Thunder and he does it all at Oilers Jambalaya, dawgbone98, 'sphere regular and resident lacrosse and hockey tactics expert, and sumoil, Copper & Blue's resident CHL tracker, the only man breaking down the top CHL prospects through detailed statistical tracking.

Today's Roundtable Question:  If Devan Dubnyk and Yann Danis prove to be competent, will Nikolai Khabibulin spend any time in Oklahoma City this season or next?

Dawgbone:  Unfortunately not. This team had a great chance to free themselves of his services this year and chose not too. A full buyout and a signing of a guy like Ray Emery on a value deal would have made a lot of sense. If they didn't do it after his season last year, I'd honestly hate to see how bad he'd have to do for them to actually consider eating his salary.

SumOil:  I don’t think Oilers see Danis as anything more than a stopgap starter for the AHL, until one of the kids are ready to take the job. It is basically the same job as that of Martin Gerber last season. Gerber performed admirably in his short stint for the Oilers and that did not have any effect on Khabibulin’s status as an Oiler. Steve Tambellini strikes me as a very passive GM. He waits and waits and waits. Hence I don’t see him making any move regarding Khabibulin this season. Danis will only be in the NHL in case of (and for the duration of) a Khabibulin injury. However next season’s status will depend a lot on how the Oilers do this season. If one the main reasons for the Oilers being close to the basement is the stellar MVPesque play of Khabibulin (like last season) then we will see a new tandem next season with Dubnyk backed by a much better goaltender and Khabibulin retiring or playing in Russia. I don’t think we will see Khabibulin in the minors.

BDHS Pat:  Gerber and Dubnyk were competent last year and Khabibulin still got his starts, bringing veteran leadership, as Kevin Weekes put it weekly. I think this year he backs Dubnyk up and next year they cut him loose, sending him to OKC or back to Europe, unless a miracle happens and he rebounds. Seeing as he has had one decent season since the Cup win in Tampa I’m not holding my breath.

Next year is when they will make their move to try and get back to the playoffs. Khabibulin won’t be a part of that because at that point Tambellini will be on the clock and I doubt he will put his future in the aging Russian’s hands.

Jeff Chapman:  Let me be the first person to say that if Khabibulin starts stinking up the toilet again, send him down. I just don't think it's ever going to happen. Short of stabbing someone in management, there's very little that Khabibulin can do that will get him sent down. I don't believe it's even crossed Tambellini's mind. You know, I know, and everyone's neighbour should know that seventeen wins in two seasons (in over sixty games) is unacceptable. The club won't own up to it's $15M mistake. We're still hearing about how Khabibulin is a 'world class goalie'. He's half way through his contract, what makes you think he's going to have to prove himself anytime soon? If finishing last year with a .890 SV% and averaging under nine wins over the course of two seasons doesn't get you sent down, then what on God's green Earth will?

Jerconjake:  If Khabibulin spends any time in OKC it will be next year, and it will have nothing to do with Yann Danis. If the Oilers were to sign a goalie like Vokoun or Pekka Rinne after next season, Khabibulin will be headed south for the winter. Otherwise, management will probably ride it out and wait for Bunz.

Smokin' Ray:  We could only hope. I doubt the Oilers pull a "Souray" on him and banish him to the minors for the year. Even if he's craptastic, I still see him as the backup goalie in Edmonton. I just can't picture Khabby in OKC. But I suppose you never know. Katz does have money to burn (unless your talking about arena funds. In that case, he's cash strapped).

BCB:  That is a big ‘if’ to begin with; the Oilers do not have a single NHL tandem-pair-style goaltender on their roster. Maybe if you cut up Dubnyk (a part-time NHL ‘tender), Danis (AHL puck stopper), Roy (ECHL goalie) and Khabibulin (maybe KHL guardian of the crease) and sewed all the best parts together, we could create Franken-‘Tender. The problem is that goalie would not really help the Oilers; other than the Boozen’ Wall laying in pieces and not be in any shape to play another NHL game, because then he could go away on his own. To the point: No, Khabibulin will not play in OKC unless we watch Tambo eat baked crow during an interview with Gene ‘the Prince of Puns’ during the second intermission during a Battle of Alberta.

Shepso:  Frankentender, eh? Hmmm…I miss Darth Gerber. All hail Darth Gerber. I also really miss the old man and his loose helmet. I don’t see Khabi going anywhere. By all accounts, he is one of those people who is just too good of a dude to get farmed. He’d bolt to Russia before that would ever happen. Maybe we will get lucky and he will be traded to the jets so he can finish his career where he started.


Follow our roundtable on Twitter:  @blackdogpat@dawgbone98@oilersjambalaya@oilonwhyte@sumoil,

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