Blackhawks

Former Blackhawks G Nikolai Khabibulin announces retirement

nikolai-khabibulin-blackhawks.png

Former Blackhawks G Nikolai Khabibulin announces retirement

The Bulin Wall is hanging up the skates.

After spending 18 seasons in the NHL, former Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin officially announced Friday that he's ending his playing career with plans to move into a managerial role in the KHL.

"I can officially declare that I have completed a career hockey player," he told Russian news outlet Championat. "During the years of [my NHL] career I got a lot of experience, so I would like to use it for the good of hockey."

Khabibulin, 42, became the first Russian netminder to win a Stanley Cup in 2004 when he guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 16-7 postseason record. He ranks second among Russian goaltenders with 333 wins, sitting only behind Evgeni Nabokov (353).

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

A four-time All-Star, Khabibulin played for Winnipeg, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Edmonton over his NHL career and also won two Olympic medals (gold and bronze) with Team Russia.

Khabibulin spent a little more than four seasons with the Blackhawks, where he compiled a 91-80-25 record with a 2.84 goals against average and a .902 save percentage from 2005-09 and 2013-14. His 91 wins ranks ninth all-time in franchise history.

In 2009, Khabibulin helped the Blackhawks snap a five-year playoff drought by backstopping Chicago to their first Conference Final since 1994-95.

His last NHL action came during the 2013-14 campaign, when he appeared in four games with the Blackhawks.

Khabibulin was selected in the ninth round (204th overall pick) of the 1992 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets (the Arizona Coyotes franchise).

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.