Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Sep 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (39) during the first period against the Washington Capitals at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

12. Tampa Bay Lightning Trade For Nikolai Khabibulin

Date: March 5, 2001

Contract disputes happen all the time in professional sports. Sometimes players hold out, whine and cry, and take their problems to the internet in the form of social. Usually a deal ends up getting done, but in the case of Nikolai Khabibulin and the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, that was not the case.

The deal was made up of five players and a draft pick exchanging hands. The Lightning would receive defenseman Stanislav Neckar and Khabibulin in exchange for defenseman Paul Mara, forward Ruslan Zainullin, forward Mike Johnson, and a 2001 2nd round draft pick (player selected was defenseman Matthew Spiller)

Khabibulin would have many fantastic seasons in Tampa Bay with the 2003-04 season being his best. He posted an impressive 2.33 GAA and .910 SV% in a regular season that saw the team finish with the year with 106 points and the second best record in the NHL behind only the Detroit Red Wings.

Khabibulin would take his play to a new level in the playoffs posting a 1.71 GAA and .933 SV% to go along with five shutouts. He would help the team defeat the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadians, Philadelphia Flyers, and Calgary Flames on the way to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Though the NHL lockout would cause Khabibulin to come home from playing in his native Russia and sign with the Chicago Blackhawks, there is no doubt that this trade brought us one of the most important pieces to that Stanley Cup winning team. Without him, the organization could still be searching for its first cup.

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