The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t sign anybody today! How weird is that, after a pretty active start to free agency? Well, let me tell you something; we may have a transaction soon. According to a couple of reports, the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
Oh for the love of…
The Leafs appear to have this obsession with targeting veteran backup goaltenders who are worse than James Reimer to replace James Reimer. They approached Dwayne Roloson as he was planning to retire a couple years back. They tried to trade for Miikka Kiprusoff. They’ve spent what seems like years trying to court Martin Brodeur. Now we have Khabibulin in the rumour mill. Why?
To put it bluntly, Khabibulin has been over the hill for a long time now. Looking at league average save percentages and games played, the last time he’s been a above the mean in a 15+ game season was 2008/09, where he was a solid 0.919 over 45 games. The year before, he was 0.001 above the average, and after that, you have to go back to 2002/03 to get another above average regular season.
That’s three above average seasons in the past eleven years. That’s just one that was significantly above the curve. He had a good 12 game run for the Oilers in the loockout season, but that’s a super small sample. Not to mention he’s played 16 games since April 2012. Not to mention that he’s 41 years old.
Nikolai Khabibulin has played at a “very good” level in 4 seasons since being drafted at in 1992. He was lucky enough to be on an Coyotes roster with no other options to make himself a starter in the late 90’s. He eventually had an out of this world playoffs with the Lightning in 2004, won a cup, and has milked it ever since. He is the David Bolland of goaltenders, milking “remember that?” memories to get contracts. He won’t get five years, but the one he might get will feel like it. I don’t want to rip on him, I was a fan of his as a kid, but the only NHL pages of paperwork he should be signing are retirement papers.
As for the Leafs, enough with this. They should be trying to convince Reimer to stick around for one more year, or looking at a backup who can’t tell you stories about playing for or against the original Winnipeg Jets.