Crashing the Net: Contemplating Nikolai Khabibulin

Updated: October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am by Bryce Crittenden

Welcome to this week’s edition of Crashing the Net. For this third week of the season we’re going to take a look at each position and some of the players you might want to add to your roster. We hope you will be able to utilize this article in order to gain a competitive advantage over your opponents throughout the season. Feel free to add omissions and critique our current choices in the comments section as we welcome an open discussion at

Vinny Prospal, Left Wing, Columbus Blue Jackets

There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Columbus this season. The Jackets are the only team in the league yet to win a game plus they’ve been forced to play without James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter — two of the clubs biggest off-season acquisitions. One of the new Jackets that is making a difference though is Vinny Prospal. Prospal had an injury plagued season with the Rangers last year and was signed to a one-year deal this summer by Columbus. So far Prospal has eight points in the first eight games this season. It helps that he’s been skating on the top line with Rick Nash and he should continue to collect more points with Jeff Carter due to come back in the next week or so. Prospal had a 58 point season two years ago while playing for the Rangers. Based on his production so far he could be setting himslef up for another big season.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Center, Edmonton Oilers

If you haven’t watched an Oilers game lately you’re missing out on one of the most exciting lines in hockey. The Oilers new kid line which consists of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle has helped lead the Oilers to a surprising 3-2-2 start. Hall and Eberle have had decent starts but everyone is talking about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In seven games this season the first overall pick has seven points including a hat-trick against the Vancouver Canucks on October 15. The 18-year-old has looked like a superstar already this season and leads the Oilers in points. The only question mark facing the Nuge is whether the Oilers will be sending him back to Red Deer in the WHL. It seems kind of crazy to think that the Oilers would send their leading scorer back to junior hockey but Nugent-Hopkins is going to do everything he can to prove to the Oilers over the next few games that he belongs to stay in the NHL.

Joffrey Lupul, Right Wing, Toronto Maple Leafs

Another team that’s off to a surprising start is the 5-1-1 Toronto Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel is off to the best start in his career and James Reimer is proving that he is a number one goalie, meanwhile Joffrey Lupul is having a comeback season. After missing most of the last two season’s with injuries Lupul has seemed to have found a new home in Toronto. After being traded to the Leafs towards the end of last season, Lupul scored 18 points in the last 28 games of the season and so far has 8 points in 7 games this year. Since he’s eligible to dress as both left and right wing Lupul is a great fantasy option if you need an extra forward.  Currently Lupul is owned in 62 percent of all Yahoo! leagues so if you’re thinking about adding him now would be a good time.

Sheldon Souray, Defence, Dallas Stars

After having a very public fallout with the Edmonton Oilers and spending all of last season playing for Hershey in the AHL, Sheldon Souray has found his way back to the NHL. The Dallas Stars signed him to a one year deal worth a modest $1.5 million. So far that deal is making Joe Nieuwendyk look like a genius since Souray is off to a great start with the stars by scoring 5 points in the Stars first 8 games. The Stars have been giving him plenty of opportunities on the ice, so far he’s been averaging just over 20 minutes per game and has been a big part of their power-play along with Alex Goligoski. Souray has been seeing just over 2:35 minutes of power-play time per game and leads all Stars defenceman in scoring. He’s currently owned in 77 percent of all Yahoo! leagues so now’s the time to hop on the Souray bandwagon if you haven’t yet.

Nikolai Khabibulin, Goaltender, Edmonton Oilers

I didn’t mean to go heavy with current and former Oilers on the waiver picks this week but it’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Bulin Wall has been playing lately. It looked like Devan Dubnyk was going to be the Oilers starter this season after a strong pre-season but Khabibulin has stepped up to prove that he can still be one of the league’s top goalies. Most people would be leery to pick up Khabibulin after having an awful season last year but so far he’s posted an impressive 2-0-2 record which also includes a .969 save percentage and a league leading .72GAA. What makes his record even more impressive is looking at the defenceman playing in front of him. Besides Ryan Whitney, the Oilers aren’t likely to have any Norris Trophy contenders this season. The Oilers are a young team that might not make the playoffs this season but if Khabibulin keeps playing as well as has been he might be able to make them into playoff contenders this year. Since goaltending is at a premium in most leagues, you might want to pick up Khabibulin while he’s on a hot streak.

Center, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Defence, Edmonton Oilers, Goaltender, Joffrey Lupul, Left Wing, NIkolai Khabibulin, Right Wing, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sheldon Souray, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vinny Prospal