There is news out of Rexall Place this afternoon that the Oilers will be starting the season without the services of their former MVP and current backup Nikolai Khabibulin who has apparently still not recovered from offseason surgery. Courtesy of the Oilers Twitter feed:
Khabibulin says he's "going day by day right now" but will start the season on the #Oilers injured reserve— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 18, 2013
While I would never wish any player to get injured there are situations where an injury can be seen as a blessing. This is most definitely one of those times. As I wrote yesterday, depending on Khabibulin to be an adequate backup for Devan Dubnyk is a plan that is quite likely going to end badly for Edmonton. So by taking him out of the lineup, even for just a few games, allows the Oilers to benefit from a little addition through subtraction.
Yann Danis will be the man tasked with replacing Khabibulin in the Oilers lineup as Dubnyk's backup. Danis, who played a single game with the Oilers last season, has dressed in 28 games so far this year with the Oklahoma City Barons posting a 13-12-3 with a 0.905 save percentage and a 2.99 goals against average. Those numbers aren't exactly spectacular but Khabibulin set the bar fairly low so I think the team will be okay.
With Danis staying in Edmonton for the time being, the Barons will be depending on the goaltending tandem of Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. Between them those two have only 16 games experience in the AHL (Bunz has yet to play a game) so Barons fans might be the only ones out there wishing for a speedy recovery by Khabibulin.