Come to Think of It: Nikolai Khabibulin's Swan Song with Blackhawks?

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IMay 10, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 05:  Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks takes makes a save against the Vancouver Canucks during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 5, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Saturday night, to go up three games to two in the best of seven series.

Which is a good thing, because nothing is guaranteed beyond this season.

Now I know what you are thinking. Why spoil such a great season by talking about what might happen after the season?

Well, let me say that I am the last guy to wish anything bad for the Hawks. I have been a fan of this organ-I-zation since the days of Bobby Hull.

And I have truly enjoyed this team and the success they have earned thus far. They are an exciting young team; and guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will be around here for a long, long time.

But I guess my point here is to enjoy this while it lasts because two major components of the Hawks success may not be back next season.

Yes, Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat are free agents following the season, I hate to remind you. And both have had a huge impact on the Hawks turnaround.

I just can't see the Hawks continuing to pay two top goalies No. 1 starter's money. Cristobal Huet was signed for four years before the season and, though he has been replaced down the stretch with Khabibulin, he is a solid netminder.

And both make a lot of money.

Khabibulin is completing a four-year, $27 million deal, which made him the highest paid goalie in the league at the time.

But in July 2008, the Blackhawks signed Huet to a four year, $22 million dollar contract. Khabibulin was put on waivers on September 29, 2008, but cleared.

Which was a very fortunate thing for the Hawks. Sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don't make.

However, I see Havlat being more of a priority for the Hawks. To have any chance of re-signing the talented scorer, the Hawks can't continue paying two No. 1 goalies.

True, Havlat has had a number of injuries in his career. But he's been mostly healthy this season, proving what a dominating presence he can be when feeling good.

Regardless of what happens, let's continue to enjoy the here and now, especially since nothing is guaranteed.

Tomorrow never knows, come to think of it.


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