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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
What now for Khabibulin, Blackhawks?


STOCKHOLM -- There were no takers for Nikolai Khabibulin and he cleared waivers Tuesday. It's not totally surprising given his $6.75 million salary (the last year of his deal) and his less-than-ideal form in Chicago. He just has never looked like the Stanley Cup-winning goalie of 2004 with Tampa since getting to the Windy City.

Nikolai Khabibulin
Nikolai Khabibulin is set to make $6.75 million this season.

So now what?

"We're weighing our options and we'll decide in the next couple of days what we do," Blackhawks GM Dave Tallon said via telephone Tuesday. "We're under the cap, we're fine. We don't have a gun to our head. But we'll decide in a few days what we're doing."

Khabibulin became expendable once the Hawks signed Cristobal Huet on July 1. Youngster Corey Crawford is ready for the NHL, as well.

The problem when trying to make a deal like this at this time of year is that everyone basically thinks they're fine. The puck hasn't dropped yet. Once the losses start piling up for a team that was supposed to be better, that's when the trade talks start to heat up.

The Los Angeles Kings could be a fit for Khabibulin. They have tons of cap room and not a lot of goaltending, at least not until Jonathan Bernier develops into the franchise goalie the Kings hope he will be (Bernier was assigned to Manchester of the AHL yesterday).

I suspect if the Hawks put Khabibulin on re-entry waivers, the Kings or another team might be interested since they'd only be on the hook for half his salary. But at this point, the Hawks don't want to do that -- they'd rather get rid of his full salary.

Captain Cooke
And the big winner of today's Penguins scavenger hunt in the streets of Stockholm? That would be Team Roxette, captained by Matt Cooke. They were handed their winning prize at a team dinner tonight -- you guessed it, Abba's Greatest Hits.

The three-hour scavenger hunt had the Penguins players scouring stores and landmarks all over the city. They were divided into six teams of four -- Team H&M (captain Darryl Sydor), Team Nobel (captain Ruslan Fedotenko), Team Bjorn Borg (captain Sidney Crosby), Team Volvo (captain Hal Gill), Team Ikea (Mark Eaton) and, of course, the winners, Team Roxette.

Sources tell ESPN.com that Gill's team finished dead last. But that's not confirmed.

Gonchar repercussions, Part II: Malkin
Another repercussion of Sergei Gonchar's injury is he won't be around the team as much. Which means he won't be around to act as the occasional Russian translator for Evgeni Malkin.

"Gonch has been there for him since day one," Crosby said. "I guess the little good that comes out of this is Gino maybe talking a little bit more in English and that's good. With Gonch not around, he's going to be forced to do that and that's not a bad thing, either."

Malkin also had an official Russian interpreter on hand last season, but he didn't join the team on the trip this week and we may see less of him. So on Tuesday, Mr. Malkin made himself available to a group of us and did just fine with his second language.

"He's a big loss for us," Malkin said of Gonchar. "He's helped me every day, he's helped me a lot. He's a big player on our team."

Malkin lived with Gonchar the past two seasons, but the word now is that Malkin is shopping for his own house.