Khabibulin Staying Put, For Now

A trade with the Kings fell through

Nikolai Khabibulin will remain a Blackhawk, at least through Christmas. Talks to ship him to Los Angeles fell through on Friday, The NHL has a freeze on trades through Dec. 27, so the move could still happen after everyone's presents have been opened.

The idea of trading Khabibulin is not new. As soon as the Blackhawks signed Cristobal Huet in July, it was assumed that Khabibulin would be traded. The team even put him on waivers, but he was not picked up so he remained a Blackhawk. Since then, he has played like a man possessed. Splitting time with Huet, he has ten wins, and his save percentage is in the top ten for the league, and the Blackhawks are 18-6-7, and in fourth place in the Western Conference.

However, the Blackhawks are going to have to make a move at some point. With Khabibulin and Huet's contracts, $12 million is tied up in the goaltender position, and that is not a situation that continue for much longer. The Blackhawks are looking for a top prospect and a draft pick in the trade, and the Kings could provide that. Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon recognizes that a change might have to be made, but he is not in a hurry to make it happen:

"It's funny how things go," Tallon said. "We said all along we felt we had a great goaltending tandem, and if they were able to coexist, we'd have success. If they didn't, then we'd have to make a move, or if we had issues we'd fix it."

Tallon's comments seem to mean that he would like to keep both players if the team keeps winning. For their part, Khabubulin and Huet have played well together. There have been no complaints or star trips about splitting time. With the Winter Classic coming up, the Blackhawks might want to focus on the publicity surrounding the game instead of the decidedly unsexy talk of trading a player who is doing well to clear salary cap.

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