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Oilers get their No. 1 goalie in Khabibulin

TSN.ca Staff

7/1/2009 8:09:38 PM

Nikolai Khabibulin is the latest big name off the board in free agency, as the veteran netminder has signed a four-year, $15 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

The 36-year-old spent the past four seasons in Chicago, helping lead the Blackhawks to their first Western Conference final since 1995 this past season. He also captured the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.

"Nikolai is a world-class goaltender who has proven himself throughout his career as one of the best in the game," Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said in a release. "He has had success at many levels of hockey and we're looking forward to seeing him continue that success here in Edmonton."

The signing marks the end of a tumultuous time in the Windy City for the Russian native. After signing a massive four-year deal with the Hawks in 2005, Khabibulin suffered through various injuries and inconsistent play.

It was thought that his days in Chicago were numbered after the Blackhawks signed free-agent netminder Cristobal Huet prior to the season. The Hawks even went as far as placing the 1992 Olympic gold medalist on waivers in September with rumours circulating of a return to Russia and the KHL. Khabibulin raised the level of his play and took over the No. 1 goaltender role and was a big reason that the Blackhawks reached the post-season for the first time in seven years.

Khabibulin finished the season with a 25-8-7 record with a 2.33 goals against average and .919 save percentage. He also picked up three shutouts.

In 678 career games split between the Jets/Coyotes, Lightning and Blackhawks, Khabibulin has a lifetime record of 299-267-21 with a .908 save percentage, 2.67 goals against average and 41 career shutouts. He has also played in four NHL All-Star games.

The Oilers also re-signed unrestricted free agent Jason Strudwick to a one-year, $700,000 deal on Wednesday.