Khabibulin on waivers
The Chicago Blackhawks have placed goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers as speculation of a trade continues.
Khabibulin was expected to start in Sunday's preseason game against the Dallas Stars but was not on the ice or the bench for the game. Antti Niemi got the start and Corey Crawford served as his back-up. The Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night but no starter has been announced.
Even after dumping Robert Lang's $4-million salary to the Habs, Chicago is having cap issues due to several young players' bonuses. Cap Central has the 'Hawks $2-million under at the moment, but that's with young stud Cam Barker stashed in the minors.
They want him in the NHL and playing big minutes, and in order for that to happen, some salary needs to be freed up.
Ditto for Jack Skille, Michael Blunden and even Khabibulin's potential replacement, 25-year-old Finnish league star Antti Niemi, who has impressed in camp.
Shuttling out Khabibulin, even in a deal where Chicago takes back some salary as Anaheim did with Schneider, will free up enough room for coach Denis Savard to build his roster how he sees fit — and not as a result of trying to maneovre under the cap.
Khabibulin makes an incredible $6.75-million this season in the final year of a boat anchor deal he signed with the 'Hawks, a salary that's going to be awfully difficult to move (especially given his play lately). Not many teams are dying for another starter and there haven't been any major injuries to 'tenders in training camp or preseason, but that could change.
For now, I don't see him moving anywhere, even on re-entry waivers. Chicago will have to take someone else's cap headache back in any deal here.