The current state of Edmonton Oilers goaltending is a somewhat gloomy and shallow affair. There are a few bright spots in the organization, but overall, the depth chart is considered a weak one. This season could even be viewed as a small disaster, as Nikolai Khabibulin's back problems have kept him out of the lineup for most of the year. That led to him making the news recently for another unfortunate reason – an intoxicated run-in with the Arizona authorities.
Combined with a lengthy contract, which still has three years remaining at 3.75 million each season (an UFA in July, 2013), there's not a lot of positive energy surrounding Khabibulin's future right now. His off-ice issues, combined with dehydration, health and consistency issues on the ice, adds up to one giant question mark heading into the summer.
But all of those things aside, why do I really consider Khabibulin a liability right now?
Because rust never sleeps. It slowly eats away at a goalie's game. It builds up over time and hinders effective game management and rebound control. It causes a trip down the rehab road to be time-consuming and emotionally taxing. Goalies like Rick DiPietro and Manny Legace know all too well that certain injuries take longer than others to properly heal. Even then, some goalies are never the same again. And the older they get, the harder it is to play at their best.
Khabibulin will surely be motivated to get back into great shape in time for next season, but as of right now, it's pretty unclear if that will happen. So, if you can somehow lift your eyes from the horrible train wreck that is Khabibulin's season, only then will you see a few rays of sun shining through the burning, twisted metal.
Jeff Deslauriers. He has not only proven himself as a legitimate prospect with a bright future, he's continually improving and gaining confidence as time goes on. Regardless of wins and losses or hot and cold streaks, he has been a very consistent goalie. He's focused, hard working, has great size, long legs and quick, active hands. He catches right, makes spectacular saves and can handle a heavy workload. All of that adds up to a giant exclamation point, as the Oilers have arguably one of the best young "backups" in the league. And he's only getting better.
Ultimately, however, the Oilers are currently in a situation that forces them to rely on an injury-prone veteran to keep the depth chart balanced. Because of that uncertainty, there's a bright future for any talented prospects in the system. But unfortunately, as you