Like a number of other bloggers, I have strong reservations regarding the Khabibulin contract. I don't think I'm writing anything new, but the following are some of my concerns with the deal.
I have a hard understanding why the Oilers felt it imperative to move so quickly when they appeared to be the only team in serious need of a starting goaltender.
I am generally against the idea of signing a 36 year old player to a 4 year deal to begin with, but particularly in this case with Edmonton tight to the cap and Khabibulin, in my mind, not a clearly better option than Biron who doesn't have the same 35+ contract issue. For a non cap team like NYI this risk doesn't exist, since dead cap space doesn't hurt them; if anything, a retirement by Roloson next summer is desirable if they don't want to spend to the cap floor in 2010/11 since they could charge 2.5 mil against next season's cap without having to spend a cent. In the case of a potential retirement, I'll be the first to admit the Oilers could probably trade Khabibulin to a cap floor team just before he retires, cheaply in theory, to remove the cap hit. But why take on the additional problems that come with the cap hit for a 35+ year old player when there is a roughly equivalent option available without that concern? Why take that risk? The only answer is that you think he's CLEARLY the best option available.
I don't know that I agree with the assessment that Khabibulin was the best goalie, currently, among those who were available. Even if he was, I don't know that means he's a better bet over the next 4 years vs. every other goalie available, in particular Biron.
So, with this particular deal, I'm not sure I agree with the player evaluation, the cap management, the evaluation of the free agent market for goaltending as it pertains to supply and demand, and the identification and use of one's leverage in the negotiations. That is a long list that leads me to the same conclusion as the above writers. This does not appear, to me, to be a great signing for the Oilers.
That is not to say that the signing can't work out, or that Khabibulin is guaranteed to fail, or anything like that. I think there is certainly a non-zero chance that Khabibulin can be worth more than this deal to the Oilers. However, even in that case, that will not mean the deal was a good signing at the time it was signed.
If you receive a 4 when hitting a 17 against a dealer's 6, that does not make your decision to hit correct.