Khabibulin Injury Blessing in Disguise For Oilers' Future?

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Khabibulin Injury Blessing in Disguise For Oilers' Future?
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

While most people are talking about Ales Hemsky's injury and what it means to the Edmonton Oilers both now in the future, Nikolai Khabibulin's injury could be the Oilers savior.

The Oilers have two big, young goalies, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk coming up the pipeline. Deslauriers is the backup to Khabibulin, and in limited starts has seemed pretty good. After Khabibulin's injury, however, Deslauriers has started the last six games and has looked pretty pedestrian, with only two games with a save percentage over 0.900%. It may have to do with fatigue, as that is four less games than he played in all of last season or it may be that Deslauriers still has some growing to do. It may also allow Dubnyk to get a couple of starts to show management what he's got.

Dubnyk has a higher pedigree than Deslauriers, drafted 14th overall in 2004, and has never had a season below 0.900% in either junior or the minors. He even made Canada's World Junior Championship team in 2006, even if he didn't get any playing time as the third goalie.

Deslauriers, to his credit, has had a stunted development, to say the least. Since turning pro, he has played for five different minor league teams in the AHL and ECHL, due to the Oilers not having their own farm team. Because it was another NHL clubs farm team, Deslauriers could not get the majority of starts, as they wanted to give more playing time to their own goalie prospects. How much this shifting of teams, philosophies and coaches has an effect on his play is yet to be determined for the 31st overall pick of the 2002 entry draft.

Why is this a big deal? Well after this year, the Oilers will have to decide between the two of them, as both will have to clear waivers to be sent down to the minors, and who knows whether or not they will pass. If they do end up losing one of them, the Oilers will have to make sure its not the wrong one. Otherwise it could be a long time until the Oil see postseason glory again.

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