Term key to inking the Bulin Wall

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is pumped to come to Edmonton in a deal he says is more about the timeline than the bottom line.

It was an easy decision for Nikolai Khabibulin to sign in Edmonton.

EDMONTON — Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is pumped to come to Edmonton in a deal he says is more about the timeline than the bottom line.

“The Edmonton Oilers made such a big commitment. There weren’t too many opportunities with such a long term out there,” the 36-year-old Russian said during in a conference call Thursday from his summer home in Phoenix.

He signed a four-year free agent deal with the NHL team Wednesday worth US$15 million after talks with his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, didn’t go anywhere.

“They (Chicago) needed a few things to bring me back,” said the man known as the ‘The Bulin Wall.’ “We had some one-year offers. But when I had such a long commitment from the Oilers, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

“I’ve turned the page and now I’m going to play for Edmonton and do my best to help the team win.”

The 2008-09 campaign was a rough one for Khabibulin, who played four seasons in the Windy City.

Battling Cristobal Huet for the starting role, he started out on waivers but eventually performed well enough to take over the No. 1 job.

In 42 games, he was 25-8-7 with a 2.33 goals against average and a .919 save percentage, numbers that put him in the top six among NHL goalies. He also played 15 games in the playoffs as the resurgent Hawks made it to the Western Conference final after missing the playoffs for six consecutive years.

He said the young Oilers remind him of the Hawks, who are thriving with young talents like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

“Our chances of accomplishing something are really, really good.”

Khabibulin said he expects to play about 60 games, a move that would allow the Oilers — who are struggling to get back to the playoffs — to groom youngsters like Jeff Deslauriers.

“Nikolai is a world-class goaltender who has proven himself throughout his career as one of the best in the game,” Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said in a news release.

“He has had success at many levels of hockey, and we’re looking forward to seeing him continue that success here in Edmonton.”

The Oilers moved quickly to acquire Khabibulin just hours after last year’s starting netminder Dwayne Roloson signed a two-year, US$5-million deal to back up Rick DiPietro with the New York Islanders.

Edmonton is the fifth team for the man from Sverdlovsk, a coal-mining hub in the Donets Basin in eastern Ukraine.

He started with the Winnipeg Jets in 1994. He has played 678 career NHL games, establishing a career record of 299-267-58, including a 2.67 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

He backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup winning team in 2004.

The signing is a salve for a city that has been stung recently by snubs from high-profile players like Chris Pronger.

Old wounds were reopened this week, however, when it appeared the Oilers had a deal to trade for disgruntled Ottawa goalscorer Dany Heatley only to have Heatley invoke his no-trade clause.

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month