Thursday, August 30, 2007

Khabibulin So Far, Unimpressive in Chicago

When the Chicago Blackhawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a 4-year $27 million contract, they expected the goalie who led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup. He is now halfway through that contract, and he has been sub-par. He doesn't get much goal support playing in Chicago, but his play certainly hasn't helped the matter. Patrick Lalime should be the backup for the 'Hawks when the season begins. After he recovered from back surgery and returned to action near the end of last season, he played well enough to drive Brian Boucher out of town. He'll be hoping to return to the way he played while on the Senators a few years ago, and is willing to work towards that goal of someday starting in the NHL once again.

The Blackhawks signed 39-year-old Wade Flaherty who played with Manitoba of the AHL last season, this offseason, and he is likely to start in Rockford this season (They are no longer affiliated with Norfolk). He is a proven veteran who the Blackhawks hope will be a mentor to young Corey Crawford, who is the other goaltender that will play for Rockford. Crawford was the starter in Norfolk of the AHL last season, and will probably play the majority this season, over Flaherty. Chicago is not very deep at the Goaltender position, so in terms of prospects, all they have is Joe Palmer, who will be at Ohio State University this season, and Joe Fallon who played out of the University of Vermont the last three seasons. Palmer has decent talent, and quite a bit of potential, but he relies on his reflexes a little too much, due to his lack of positioning. He needs to be coached in the coming years, and could turn into an NHL starter, so the 'Hawks will just have to wait and see with him. Fallon is a consistent, stand-up style goaltender, with good lateral movement. He takes up a lot of net with his 6'3 195 pound frame, and is very good at playing the angles. He is also a good puckhandler, and should continue to improve these next few seasons. Other than that, the Blackhawks don't have much to offer. Khabibulin needs to step things up for the present Blackhawks team, and the management needs to find a solid #1 option for the future Blackhawks team, down the road.

4 comments:

Avsfan19 said...

What happened to Lalime anyway? He was never a great goalie in Ottawa, but he was good, and then when he left the Sens we rarely heard from him again.

Eggshmeg said...

He went to St. Louis, got off to an AWFUL start and got sent down. Hawks signed him last offseason, but he got hurt right out of training camp, and he came back near the end of the season. The rest is in the blog.

wirtzGMaround said...

The first year not withstanding, i think Khabibulin has gotten the short end of every stick--be it injuries, goal suppport, fan support.

Give him consistent goal support, and suddenly you have a consistent goaltender with Stanley Cup experience, who knows what it takes to get there.

Take away goal support, and you simply have the last line of defense. And THAT's a terrible position to be in...

wirtzGMaround said...

nice blog!