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24 ноября 2008 года. 
Nikolai Khabibulin builds case to stick around // Chicago Tribune

Chris Kuc. 

Nov. 24--The Blackhawks are on a serious roll after opening their annual circus trip with three victories. The offense has been terrific with 14 goals in that span, but equally important is who's been in goal: Nikolai Khabibulin.

The veteran has sparked victories not only on this trip but all season. He is 7-1-4 and has helped the Hawks earn at least one point in each of his last 11 starts.

Who would have expected this after the Hawks placed Khabibulin on waivers Sept. 29? They basically couldn't give him away, and that has turned out to be a good thing. As coach Joel Quenneville pointed out, "He's been rock-solid for us all year."

Lost in the glare of Khabibulin's efforts has been Cristobal Huet, who signed a four-year, $22.5 million free-agent contract July 1. With Khabibulin in the final year of a $6.75 million deal, the Hawks created a $12 million dilemma.

The conventional thinking then, and to some extent now, is that general manager Dale Tallon would trade Khabibulin for a scorer. Rumors persist that Tallon is still looking to move the goalie, but with the Russian playing at a high level and the team climbing in the Western Conference standings, the Hawks can't afford to deal him.

Even if the Hawks did find a trade partner willing to take on Khabibulin's salary, they run the risk that trading him would send a negative message. How would the rest of the team react after seeing a player traded who has given it a chance to win every game he's played?

What are the options?

--The Hawks can let Khabibulin walk next season and have Huet ready as the clear No. 1 in 2009-10.

--They can trade Khabibulin and hope Huet, who hasn't been awful, plays at a high level with consistent starts -- which he very well could.

--They can decide not to worry about next season and deal Huet, or they can send him to Rockford of the American Hockey League to clear cap space.

With the Hawks winning, however, there's no urgency to do anything just yet.

Страничка Николая Хабибулина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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