NHL

Blackhawks sign Khabibulin to one-year deal

07/05 8:30 PM

The Blackhawks signed Nikolai Khababulin to one-year contract Friday.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a one-year contract to join the team as a backup goaltender, the team announced Friday.

The 40-year-old Khabibulin was an unrestricted free agent after playing the last four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He was 4-6-1 with 2.54 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 12 games last season. He played with the Blackhawks from 2003-09.

"It was pretty apparent when we looked at the list of players of goalies that were available (that) Nik was the best candidate for that position," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "We were really thrilled to add him to our team I think for a number of reasons. No. 1, I think he is able to be the tandem with Corey (Crawford) that we experienced the last couple years and that worked so well."

Crawford and Ray Emery shared starting goaltender duties for the Blackhawks throughout the regular season last season. Crawford started all of the playoff games.

"Nik's a guy, a goaltender who has had an accomplished career, and he has a lot of game left in him, and he doesn't want to be a guy that just plays a few games," Bowman said. "He's a competitive guy. He wants the chance to help our team try to come back with a strong season. For that reason, it was very appealing for both sides."

Emery became an unrestricted free agent on Friday and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We spoke to Ray quite a bit down the stretch here," Bowman said. "It became apparent talking to his agent he was looking for a different opportunity, I think. I can't speak for him, but it sounded like he wanted to go somewhere where he had a chance to be the No. 1 guy or maybe a different opportunity. He experienced the last two years, and I think he enjoyed it, but I think he was looking for something different for himself."

The Blackhawks signed 24-year-old Finnish goaltender Antti Raanta to a one-year contract in June. Bowman recently said he was unsure if Raanta would be ready for the NHL next season due to the transition from European hockey.


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