ST. LOUIS, MO. - SEPTEMBER 15: Anton Khudobin #35 of the Minnesota Wild defends against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on September 15, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
After Dan Ellis signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars, it looked like the Hurricanes were going to enter next season with Justin Peters as their back-up goaltender. This all changed once they signed Anton Khudobin to a one-year, $800,000 contract to add another goalie to the mix. Khudobin isn't exactly a proven commodity since he is 27 years old and has played only 21 games at the NHL level, but he at least gives the Hurricanes another option in net.
That's all they really need right now because going into next season with Peters as the only other goaltender on the roster wouldn't have been a smart move. Peters is a good guy with great work ethic, but his performance at the NHL level has not been up to standards, so giving him some competition for the back-up spot makes sense.
I'm a little reluctant to proclaim Khudobin as the team's back-up right off the bat because he has only 21 games of NHL experience but there weren't many proven options out there for goaltenders and he was one of the better options. He is also an upgrade over Peters in just about every area. Even if Khudobin's .933 NHL save percentage isn't reflective of his true talent, he doesn't need to be that good to be better than what the Hurricanes have gotten out of their back-ups in recent seasons.
Generally, you expect your back-up goaltender to post a .915-.920 save percentage in 15-25 and Khudobin was able to do that last year with the Bruins. The question is whether or not he can do that again next year while playing in a different system. His career numbers are somewhat encouraging, though and it looks like he has a strong chance to win the back-up job out of camp.
Khudobin doesn't have a huge body of work in the NHL, but he still appears to be a better goaltender than Peters if you go by his overall career numbers.
The uusal rule of thumb with goaltenders is that you don't really know what their 'true talent" level is until they face about 5000 shots. Both Khudobin and Peters are pretty far off from that mark in the NHL but in the minors, Khudobin was a much better goaltender. He was only an average to above average goalie at this level, but that is still better than what the Hurricanes and Checkers got from Peters. The Canes were looking for an upgrade in goal and they appear to have got it with the Khudobin signing. With that being said, I think Khudobin's NHL numbers will regress next year and he'll have a couple of bad games, but if he can play about 20 games and post a save percentage of .915-.920 then it is not big deal. Seeing how Carolina's goaltenders have performed at replacement level in recent seasons, average results from Khudobin could go a long way.
The Hurricanes made a couple of good low-risk moves with this and the Mike Komisarek signing and I'm interested to see how both turn out. They aren't long-term solutions and both could end up poorly, but they could also give the team considerable value for what they are paying them. With not much cap space to work with, low-risk moves like this are generally the way to go and the Hurricanes managed to address two big needs with these signings. Again, Khudobin doesn't have a ton of NHL experience, but he was one of the better options on the market and could prove to be a very good signing if he works out here.