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Hawks to talk with Devils after Brodeur injury
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/5/200 12:17 AM

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Shortly after the news broke Tuesday morning that New Jersey Devils all-star goalie Martin Brodeur would be lost for up to four months with a biceps injury, Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon told the Daily Herald he planned to talk with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.

If Lamoriello is looking for an alternative to backup Kevin Weekes, the Hawks might hold the answer in available veteran Nikolai Khabibulin.

Despite Khabibulin's strong 4-1-2 start (2.38 goals-against average and .919 save percentage), the Hawks remain ready to move the 35-year-old goaltender in order to get his $6.75 million salary cap hit off the books.

The Hawks then would turn around and use that money in their pursuit of a top-six forward.

Khabibulin has been available since training camp when he cleared waivers. The Hawks feel the goalie's strong start has only enhanced his trade value.

A Devils source said interest in Khabibulin was a "definite possibility," but another source indicated Lamoriello might prefer to wait several weeks to pursue another goalie until he sees how Weekes performs.

The 36-year-old Brodeur will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn tendon in his left biceps. Brodeur was hurt in a game Saturday reaching for a puck.

Lamoriello was asked following practice Tuesday if he needed to go out and acquire a new No. 1 goaltender.

"No, I do not," Lamoriello told reporters. "We have total confidence in Kevin.

"This is not a career-ending injury. This is a bump in the road. He will be back in a short period of time."

The Hawks have all the confidence in the world that Cristobal Huet can handle a heavy workload should Khabibulin be traded or waived again.

Huet has played well of late and is 2-2-1 in five starts with a 2.73 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

A deal for Khabibulin also would pave the way for Finnish rookie Antti Niemi to be recalled from Rockford.

The Hawks are extremely high on the 25-year-old Niemi, who has been compared to Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom.

Niemi is 4-2 at Rockford with a 1.80 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

Moving Khabibulin's salary would give Tallon a better chance in his longshot pursuit of free-agent center Mats Sundin, who is expected to sign somewhere within the next three weeks.

"I hear he might be interested and that we are one of many teams, as of now," Tallon said.

Sundin has started working out in Los Angeles and it's believed the three teams with the best chance to sign the future Hall of Famer are Anaheim, Montreal and Vancouver.

Sundin is believed to want to play for a team than can win the Stanley Cup this season, which likely hurts the Hawks' chances of getting him.