In a way, it's a good problem to have. Rather than trotting out some warmed-over, replacement-level (does hockey have "replacement-level? Let's assume it does) sieve of a goalie, the Blackhawks have a choice: Nikolai Khabibulin or Cristobal Huet?
The choice is about as easy as deciding who has the cooler name. Khabibulin is a well-aged veteran, a Russian product of the mid-90's hockey boom, and a former unsung All-Star on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Like so many other current hockey veterans, we have vague memories of Khabibulin's name from our childhood.
Huet is a much younger, promising option, and also has something of a pioneer's streak in him. He's the goalie, and only the second player overall, to hail from France and play in the NHL. He's like the French hockey goalie version of Barack Obama. When given the opportunity, he's flashed some incredible potential, like his 48-saves-on-51-shots performance Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
For the time being, the Blackhawks have been using a two-goalie strategy, mixing and matching the netminders' starts in no real discernible pattern. (At least not one we can discern.) Soon, though, that will have to end. Soon the Blackhawks will have to choose. Who will it be?
The New Jersey Devils -- and Martin Brodeur's untimely injury -- might have answered Chicago's question, according to Chi City Hockey:
At some point, we’re going to have to ship one of these guys away. And most likely, it’s going to be Khabibulin and his $6.75M. But I have to think that the Devils are going to be shopping for another goalie now that Brodeur is officially out for a good chunk of the season. Unless they want to stick with Kevin Weekes, but I just don’t see that happening.
Dealing for Khabibulin may put the Devils in a tricky situation when Brodeur does return, but if Khabibulin is playing well for the Devils, he would probably be pretty easy for them to unload him at the trade deadline. 3-4 months is a long time to lean on your backup goaltender. If the Devils are smart, they’ll at least take a long look at acquiring the Bulin Wall.
As Scotty Linwood says, it's a good problem to have, but not one that ought to linger. The Blackhawks should showcase and then trade Khabibulin, make room for Huet, and add some veteran depth to their already dynamic roster.
Oh, and for the record: Cristobal Huet is a cooler name. But just barely.