MOSCOW, April 4 (R-Sport) - Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin's breakout NHL season could see him rewarded with a trip to the world championships, new Russian national team coach Oleg Znarok has told R-Sport.
This season is the first in which Khudobin, 27, has regularly started games in the NHL and he has taken full advantage, posting the second-best save percentage in the league with .931 from 33 games, behind only Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild.
In an interview with R-Sport, Znarok said he had “a list of eight goaltender candidates” for next month’s world championships in Belarus and that “on it, for example, is Anton Khudobin, who’s displaying some very interesting hockey at the moment in Carolina."
In a clue that Khudobin might play a significant role in Minsk, Znarok didn't single out any other goaltenders for praise.
Khudobin won world under-18 goal with the Russian team in Belarus 10 years ago but was not considered a serious candidate to play at the Sochi Olympics.
Sergei Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche and Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets shared goaltending duties for Russia, which was eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals.
That failure prompted the exit of coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who was replaced by two-time KHL championship-winning coach Znarok.