Anton Khudobin’s Gritty Journey in the NHL

It’s undeniable that Anton Khudobin played a huge role in the Dallas Stars’ postseason run, but how did he get there? For starters, it didn’t come easy for him, and he deserves the success, as he’s paid his dues over the years.

Khudobin was drafted 206th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild. He spent the six years after being drafted splitting his time playing in both the AHL and the ECHL. He then made his NHL debut for the Wild on Feb. 4, 2010. Two days later, he recorded his first NHL win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Khudobin ended up playing a total of six games with the Wild, recording a .961 save percentage with a 1.23 goals-against average before they traded him to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 28, 2011.

With the Bruins, Khudobin spent most of his first season playing for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. He was brought up as an emergency goalie for the Bruins during their Stanley Cup run in 2011 but never played.

To Carolina and a Boston Return

On July 1, 2011, Khudobin’s first tenure with the Bruins came to an end, as he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. He ended his first stint with the Bruins with a .949 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.66 goals-against average (GAA).

Khudobin impressed Hurricanes fans, as he had a great first season with Carolina. Through 36 games, he posted a 19-14-1 record with a save percentage of .926 and a 2.30 GAA.

Anton Khudobin
Anton Khudobin with the Carolina Hurricanes. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This performance from the Russian netminder led to the Hurricanes re-signing him to a two-year contract. The following season (2014-15), Khudobin split the role of starter with Cam Ward. But following the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, the Hurricanes traded Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenceman James Wisniewski.

Khudobin made his debut for the Ducks on Oct. 14, 2020, and went on to play a total of eight games in Anaheim before being re-assigned to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.

Khudobin again found himself a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season and ended up signing with the Bruins, making a return to the team. He ended his time with the Ducks with a .909 SV% and a 2.32 GAA.

The second time around with Boston, Khudobin immediately assumed the role of backup goaltender, picking up where he left off. He faced a few injuries during the two seasons he played with the team but still ended up with a total of 47 games, recording a .910 SV% with a 2.59 GAA.

Joining the Stars

Khudobin’s second stint with the Bruins ended on July 1, 2018, as he signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars. Upon arriving with the team, he assumed the backup role for the Stars and posted a .923 SV% with a 2.57 GAA.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Khudobin quickly became a fan favorite, as his bubbly personality and his Harry Potter reminiscent nickname, Dobby, which he has plastered on his mask, caught the eyes of Stars fans.

Anton Khudobin Dallas Stars
Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While Khudobin did have a strong first season with the Stars, he really shined in the 2019-20 regular season, as well as the postseason. Through the 30 games he appeared in during the shortened season, he posted a .930 SV% with a 2.22 GAA.

The numbers he put up this past season are his best since 2011-12. It is important to keep in mind, however, since COVID-19 cut the season short, he appeared in 11 fewer games than the 2018-19 season, which does affect his numbers a bit.

However, Khudobin really showed his talent and ability during the postseason. When the Stars’ starting goaltender Ben Bishop had to step down from his starter role while recovering from a knee surgery he had in May, Khudobin stepped up big time.

Before this past postseason, Khudobin had only ever appeared in two other NHL postseason games. This past postseason, however, he appeared in 25 games and started 24 of those 25. His efforts in goal, as well as the way the team rallied around him, had a major impact on Dallas’ long playoff run.

Over the course of the postseason, he posted a .919 SV% with just a 2.63 GAA. His performance during the playoffs was crucial for the Stars, as there were major concerns after Bishop was unable to continue.

While the Stars did eventually lose in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Khudobin’s work in net helped lead Dallas to the Final for the first time since the 1999-00 season.

Khudobin Re-Signs With Dallas

This impressive performance led to the Stars offering Khudobin his longest NHL contract, a three-year deal worth $10 million. Stars’ general manager Jim Nill released a list of injury updates on Oct. 8th, and Khudobin was one of those names. Nill said that he underwent surgery on his right arm to treat numbness caused by a nerve issue that limited his ability to hold his stick.

Although the Stars did not announce an exact recovery date, Nill said that the only player that would not be available to the Stars if the NHL begins play on Jan. 1st would be Tyler Seguin. And that means Khudobin should be ready to go for the potential start of the season.

Related: Dallas Stars Re-Sign Anton Khudobin to Three-Year Contract

While Khudobin has been bouncing all around the NHL for the last decade, it seems that Dobby will be in Dallas for the foreseeable future, something that he and Dallas fans are undoubtedly thankful for.

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