Last week, Edmonton Oilers starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was found guilty of drunk driving charges and sentenced to 30 days in jail. The ruling was the minimum amount of time he
could have faced behind bars, as the maximum sentence for his crime is 6 months in jail. Regardless of his favorable sentence, Khabibulin decided to appeal, leaving the Oilers in a precarious position. Had Khabibulin accepted his sentence and spent the time in jail, there was a possibility the Oilers could find a way to void his contract, but now that the appeal has been filed, the Oilers have no choice but to wait. With training camp opening on September 17th, GM Steve Tambellini expects Khabby to report, thus further complicating the already crowed Oilers goal crease. Edmonton signed the veteran to a 4 year, $15 million dollar contract a year ago, thus with the cap hit, age, back issues and legal problems, the 37 year is virtually immovable.
Hall Takes a Number
On a brighter note, the excitement regarding first overall pick Taylor Hall continues to mount as the rookie contemplates which number he wants for the upcoming season. Hall has worn the number 4 his entire junior career, but the number is already retired by the organization, worn by Oilers great Kevin Lowe. There have been reports surfacing that management will grant him permission to wear the number 4. The announcement is expected to come sometime tomorrow.
Oilers Lock-up Sam Gagner
The Oilers drafted Gagner 6th overall in 2007 NHL entry draft, and the youngster went straight to the NHL. Some suggested it was too soon for the smallish forward to play at the pro level, and it had hindered his development. In three NHL seasons, Gagner has scored 44 goals and 87 assists. When drafted, he was slated to become one of the top two centres in the organization, but at age 21, he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations yet. Edmonton believes the best is yet to come for Gagner, as they re-signed the RFA to a two year contract extension worth $4.55 million dollars. RFA Andrew Cogliano, another high draft pick that has yet to pan out, remains unsigned, although the 23 year old is confident a deal will get done soon. Veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray, who requested a trade last season, is still a member of the Oilers despite Tambellini’s efforts to move him. He wasn’t present at this weeks Oilers skate, and although it’s not mandatory, he has been there in the past. It would be an awkward situation for Souray to start the season in an Edmonton jersey after the negative remarks he made about management, but he may not have a choice.