We all know that the Blackhawks are over the cap. That's not a scoop or a revalation. But somehow they need to get back under the cap. Which means they have to dump some salary. Which means a player is going to be packing up and moving on. But Who? Who is going to be the sacrificial lamb in the name of Cap space? With rumors of Khabibulin being dealt almost a month old, I'd say he would be the guy. HOWEVER, the fact that he hasn't already been dealt leaves me wondering if anyone is remotely interested in him.
The Kings would be the most obvious choice for trading partners, however they don't have much in the way of returning players to be dealt. Which means they would need a third party willing to take draft picks for a player that the Blackhawks deemed "acceptable". I do not think that the Kings are really in much of a position to be giving up draft picks as they are obviously in the rebuilding mode right now. At least I sure hope that's what they are doing.
The second pick would be Colorado. With Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft as their netminders, they could use someone with a starter status rather than two back ups. They do have plenty in the players to be traded section as well. But if Colorado is our trading partner, I'm sure they are waiting for Joe Sakic to either re-sign or retire before they bring in an expensive net minder like Niko. Colorado has always been fairly focused on winning and let's face it- That ain't happening with Budaj and Raycroft. If Sakic isn't returning I could see the team going to re-building mode almost immediately, which would mean a goaltender like Niko wouldn't be in the picture. If Joe is coming back, I can see Colorado going for Khabi in an effort to make a Cup run for their Captain's (most likely) last year.
Atlanta: In return we get John "The Moose" Hedburg and possibly a draft pick or prospect We shed our cap space. They get a genuine starter that can show Lehtonen the way.
Nashville: They only have Dan Ellis as a true netminder right now. This one is an EXTREMELY long shot as Ellis posted better numbers than Khabibulin last year. Not to mention the team is sort of cheap (there's really no other way to put it).
St. Louis- We get Legace, they get Khabi. I would say this is a stupid trade for St Louis, but they seem to be doing the same thing Chicago did after the lockout. They might bite on this trade if we threw in Cam Barker to "bolster" their blueline. I don't see it happening, but then again I never thought I'd see the Blues suck this bad this long either.
Toronto: CuJo is a great goaltender.......5 years ago. This is the here and now. The Leafs could use someone to bolster their netminding capabilities. That could be Khabi depending on which one they get each night. I'm saying this is a LONGSHOT though. Because the Leafs seem to be rebuilding or at least "going in a different direction".
Now we get to sit and wait. When will Khabi get moved? Where's he going? What do we get in return? Mostly I'm wondering about the when part. The sooner the better in my opinion. The way I see it, Nikolai Khabibulin has ripped off the Blackhawks organization, the fans, and his team mates for the last 3 seasons. His bloated contract and overall lack of consistency have not impressed me one bit. I'm really hoping he is the one that gets dealt from the team as I don't want to think about who else it could be.