Hawks player reviews: Nikolai Khabibulin

June, 18, 2014
Powers By Scott Powers
Nikolai KhabibulinAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhNikolai Khabibulin's season with the Blackhawks didn't exactly turn out as hoped.

Nikolai Khabibulin, Goaltender

2013-14 cap hit: $1,700,000 | Age: 41 | Season stats: 1-0-1, 5.01 goals-against average, .811 save percentage.

Season recap: The Blackhawks took a risk in signing Khabibulin at 40. His play had been inconsistent in recent seasons and he wasn’t always healthy. The Blackhawks had hoped he’d give Antti Raanta time to adjust to the North American game. That didn’t happen, as Khabibulin suffered a season-ending injury in his fourth game.

Season highlight: Khabibulin stopped 17-of-19 shots in a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders in his season debut.

Season lowlight: Before the injury, Khabibulin struggled in net. He allowed 10 goals in his second and third starts combined and had given up four goals on six shots before suffering an injury against the Nashville Predators in the first period on Nov. 16.

Final grade: F.

Notes: Khabibulin is one game short of 800 career NHL games.

Quotes: “It was pretty apparent when we looked at the list of players of goalies that were available, Nik was the best candidate for that position,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said after signing Khabibulin. “We were really thrilled to add him to our team, I think for a number of reasons. No. 1, I think he is able to be the tandem with Corey (Crawford) that we experienced the last couple years and that worked so well. Nik’s a guy, a goaltender who has had an accomplished career, and he has a lot of game left in him and he doesn’t want to be a guy that just plays a few games. He’s a competitive guy. He wants the chance to help our team try to come back with a strong season.”

What’s next: Khabibulin will not return to the Blackhawks. There hasn’t been any indication whether he’ll retire.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.



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