Anton Khudobin (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
Ducks goaltender Anton Khudobin will be leaving North America next season to head to the KHL after spending much of the 2015-16 season stuck with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. Heading into this campaign, Khudobin had spent the past three seasons as an NHL backup.
The Ducks’ acquisition of Anton Khudobin in the off-season was a head-scratcher considering Anaheim boasted a reliable goaltending platoon in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson heading into the campaign.
Unsurprisingly, Khudobin, 29, has spent most of his campaign in the AHL and has only played eight games this season in the NHL. And considering his lack of playing time in the NHL -- which comes after three full seasons as a backup netminder -- it’s no surprise that Khudobin is looking at leaving North America after being mired in the AHL for the 2015-16 season.
Khudobin is in the final season of a two-year, $4.5-million deal that he signed back in 2014 while a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, but it appears all but a done deal that he’ll be suiting up in the KHL next season.
According to Championat.com, Khudobin already has offers from several KHL clubs and there’s little to no doubt that he’ll be back in the Russian league next season.
"Yes, I can confirm this information,” Khudobin’s agent, Yuri Nikolaev, told Championat. “Anton is really going to spend the next season in the KHL. There are several options...Let me just say that the returning to the KHL is the desire and initiative of Anton.”
Of course, with Andersen and Gibson the Ducks aren’t going to feel the loss of Khudobin in any significant way quite yet, but he could have been a more than serviceable backup should the Ducks choose to part ways with Andersen this off-season. Andersen is set to become a restricted free agent and could be a valuable trade chip if Anaheim chooses to go with Gibson as their full-time starter, which he has been off-and-on throughout the season.
And even if the Ducks are to hold on to both Andersen and Gibson, it’s hard to imagine Khudobin wouldn’t have at least seen a few offers come his way. He’s still relatively young and has NHL experience, which would make him a good second option on teams not wanting to bring up a young, unseasoned netminder from the AHL quite yet.
Khudobin has been among the best goaltenders in the AHL this season. In 29 games, he has a .920 save percentage, 2.42 goals-against average and an 18-7-3 record. In 99 games of NHL action over his career, Khudobin has gone 44-39-8 with five shutouts, 2.42 GAA and .918 SP.