Earlier this afternoon, TSN reported that the Chicago Blackhawks were taking care of their logjam in net by sawing off one of the logs -- in this case, by waiving goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The veteran, who was in the last year of a 4-year, $27 million contract, joined the Hawks from Tampa Bay as a free agent immediately after the lockout.
Though the word is not yet official, our friends at Second City Hockey are hardly surprised:
Doesn't really come as much of a shock to anybody, most likely. The situation from last night's 4-3 win over Dallas did seem a little fishy, as he was suddenly scratched from his start in favor of Niemi, and as the [TSN] article mentions, wasn't even on the bench. I'd have to think he will be out of a Hawks uniform within the next few days.
Again, not much of a shocker, as it was all but impossible to believe that Khabibulin could possibly tolerate sharing playing time with Cristobal Huet, the free agent goalie who arrived from Washington on the very first day of free agency when he signed a 4-year, $22.5 million deal, after stringing along the Capitals for a couple of weeks in order to jack up his market value. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
So what's next for Khabibulin? Everyone in the world keeps speculating that the Kings ought to be doing a deal, but LA GM Dean Lombardi doesn't seem to be anxious to bail Chicago or anybody else out of a bad contract just for the sake of reaching the cap floor. And if Khabibulin really wants to get paid, who says there isn't a deep pocketed KHL owner out there who might be willing to cough up some roubles for a goalie with a Stanley Cup championship on his resume?