Drafted: 2004 206th overall by the Minnesota Wild
Traded to the Boston Bruins Feb,28; 2011 for Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen
Khudobin began his hockey career in his native Kazakhstan, but moved to Russia at a young age and joined the Metallurg hockey school in Magnitogorsk in order to develop his game at a higher level. He was a consistent starter for Russia's national junior squad, earning a gold medal at the 2004 IIHF World Under-18 Championships and silver medals at the 2005 and 2006 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He played as a backup for HC Metallurg before deciding to move to North America and play in the Canadian major-junior system. Khudobin played with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League for the 2005-06 season, and helped them to their best regular-season finish in over a decade and backstopped them past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in six years. In 2006 he returned to Russia and took over back-up duties with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Superleague (RSL), helping the team to the league championship.
2007-08: Signed to a three-year entry-level contract by the Wild. Played most of the season with the Texas Wildcatters (ECHL) and was stellar. Posted a 20-1-4 record, 1.98 GAA and 0.934 save percentage on his way to being named the league's Goaltender of the Year. Called up to Houston (AHL) and played well, going 2-2-1 with a 1.99 GAA and 0.911 save percentage. In 2009-10 Khudobin made the full-time jump to the Aeros, and made his NHL debut for the Wild on February 4, 2010, replacing the injured Josh Harding in a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. He made his first NHL start two days later on February 6, 2010, stopping 38 of 39 shots in a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Following a September 24, 2010 preseason knee injury to Harding, the Wild's full-time back-up goalender, Khudobin was expected to take over that role for the Wild. However, the Wild opted instead to sign Jose Theodore to a one year contract, leaving Khudobin in the number-three position. Soon after the signing Khudobin was returned to Houston.
Khudobin was recalled by the Wild on January 8, 2011 to back-up Theodore after starter Niklas Bäckström suffered a strained hip flexor. On January 12, Theodore suffered a similar injury, and Khudobin replaced him in the third period of a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. After a 4-1 loss to the visiting Colorado Avalanche on January 14, Khudobin posted his first career NHL shutout, making 32 saves in a 4-0 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. He finished the season strong and on July 1, 2011, Khudobin signed a two-year contract extension with the Bruins. He is expected to serve as the organization's third goaltender.
Khudobin is small at 5'10, but is an intense competitor with a lot of confidence who can both play solidly and make the spectacular save. He has a better glove than stick. His biggest weakness right now is consistency over the long haul, and playing his best hockey in the biggest games. Khudobin has a very similar style to Tim Thomas. He's on the smaller side, at 5'10, and has a similar body type to the Bruins' starting netminder. His play favors using his athleticism to make up for lack of style, making for some spectacular-looking saves at times.
To get a little more insight on Khudobin’s eclectic demeanor and personality, be sure to www.startribune.com/sports/113857889.html">read this column by Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune. It’s a great piece on the “different” but effective style that Khudobin plays. Below you will find the highlights from both games, courtesy of the NHL.com website, along with a few more scouting notes.
Khudobin is an energetic and animated goaltender that plays the traditional Vladislav Tretiak style. His stance is very narrow and upright and his balance point is centered in the middle of his skates. Because of this, he’s considered a goalie that relies on solid positioning. He displayed quick feet in both games, but his overall footwork was very loud and hyperactive. He does a great job of scrambling to cover loose pucks around his crease area and he does like to challenge shooters with an active stick.
Khudobin’s style mimics and mirrors a lot of the same traits you’ll find in Evgeni Nabokov’s game. As such, he will appear non-traditional and unconventional, but in actuality has a refined and effective butterfly style. He’ll also stand up when possible, which allows him to economize his movements and conserve energy. The key is to realize that Khudobin is still a fairly raw-skilled prospect that will steadily improve his ability to read plays, absorb shots and direct pucks to less dangerous areas.
Khudobin’s main areas of improvement would be the main elements that are found with goalies that are NHL-ready. They would include rebound control, displaying patience and proper balance on quick-developing plays and then eliminating aerial angles on rapidly-rising shots. But he clearly has the quickness, positioning, energy and durability to thrive in the NHL.
As you watch the highlights from Friday’s and Sunday’s game, you’ll find that his footwork, positioning and balance improves as he logs more minutes. This is what “getting into a rhythm” is all about for a goaltender. The more shots he faces, the more comfortable he gets in the crease and the better his mechanics become. Because of this, expect his next game to be one in which he continues to display improved skills. (Hmm this paragraph reminds me of someone on here saying pretty close to the same thing about a certain Tuukka Rask doesn't it?) Can't remember who; but he's obviously pretty smart.
Overall, you have to be excited about the bounce-back performance Khudobin had against the Canucks. It’s a great display of his mental toughness and rising confidence. He’s a very capable Russian netminder that is clearly capable of evolving, albeit slowly, into a top-notch NHL goaltender. He will need some big-time opportunities and a team that’s willing to be patient as he evolves, but because he has displayed solid mental toughness in his two short stints with the Wild (his first one came last year), Khudobin has a lot of potential.
I think PC was very smart to hang on to this guy! Him & Rask should make a decent combo. Even if he just becomes a very capable backup he'll be an asset.