SUN Hockey Pool

Khabibulin the subject of much speculation

Edmonton's goalie Nikolai Khabibulin can't stop Vancouver's Sami Salo from scoring during the first...

Edmonton's goalie Nikolai Khabibulin can't stop Vancouver's Sami Salo from scoring during the first period of the Edmonton Oilers NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Sunday, February 19, 2012. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 PM ET

Nikolai Khabibulin was back on the ice Friday after tweaking his groin early in the week.

The Oilers goaltender is unlikely to play Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes, but by all indications could be back next week, if he's still around.

Khabibulin has been the subject of much trade speculation as Monday's deadline approaches.

"I actually felt pretty good," Khabibulin said. "I felt it a little bit here and there, but overall I felt pretty good."

Khabibulin was injured in the first period of last Sunday's encounter against the Vancouver Canucks.

He was forced to leave after turning aside 15 of 17 first period shots in an eventual 5-2 loss.

"I can't really put the finger on when it happened, but three or four minutes into the game I started feeling it and as the game progressed it felt a little worse," Khabibulin said. "The doctors and trainers looked at it during the intermission and decided to call it a night.

"I think the doctor said it was a minor strain, so it's nothing really serious. It's just day-by-day. I've felt really good in the last couple of days, and (Friday) was another test and it was good."

FAMILIAR FEELING

Cam Barker knows what it's like to be a trade deadline acquisition.

Three seasons ago, the former third overall pick in the NHL draft was sent by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Minnesota Wild just prior to the deadline.

"I've been through it once, traded at the deadline," Barker said. "It's completely out of your hands, so there is not much to think about, you just try and do the same thing every day, practice, try and prepare.

"It is a huge deal in Canada, it gets tons of media coverage. You pay attention to it, see where everybody goes, where your buddies go and your teammates go. It's a tough day for everyone."

Barker is still trying to work his way back from ankle surgery, having been a healthy scratch in the Oilers previous two games.

"The ankle feels good, it's just a matter of getting back in the flow," he said. "Not skating for basically a month and a half and the guys are basically in mid-season form. I'm trying to get back in the flow of things and keep working."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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