Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do we have a winner?


I think we can call it. The worst 2009 offseason free agent signing is...

Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton, four years, $15 million (3.75 cap hit.)

In 18 games, Khabibulin posted a 7-9-2 record with a 3.03 goals against average and a .909 save percentage for a team that sometimes hung him out to dry. But the best part is Khabibulin, who already had a bit of an injury history has been out since mid-November with a back problem.

Now Khabibulin, who turned 37 on Wednesday, will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc. He will be out for 12 weeks, essentially the bulk of the season, unless the Oilers somehow turn around their conference-worst record - they're eight points behind No. 14 Columbus - and make a deep playoff run.

Three more years of that, Edmonton fans. And if he retires, his contract stays on the books since he signed it when he was beyond the magical age 35. Not to go all Russo on you and toot my own horn, even though the very next words will be doing just that, but I questioned this signing when it happened, again in November, and again around Christmas break. It didn't make sense at any of those times. A one- or two-year contract would've been more understandable.

So if you own the Bulin Wall on any fantasy team, it's safe to jettison him.

Also, Edmonton is back in the Josh Harding sweepstakes, though the article I linked to above talks about Montreal's Jaroslav Halak or the Islanders' Martin Biron. Apparently, however, they will continue to go with Jeff Deslauriers, who at times looks competent and at other times not so much, and Devan Dubnyk, who gets to try his hand against the Penguins tonight. Though there's a good chance he'll win, since it seems the Penguins allow a goalie's first career win more often than not. Dubnyk's appeared in four games without earning a victory, so the odds are in his favor.

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