Nikolai Khabibulin is one of about 23 players in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room who feels like a kid again … only not for the same reasons that, say, a revitalized Ryan Smyth or an 18-year-old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are feeling so young.

In Khabibulin's case, he's having rookie flashbacks because that's how far you have to go back to find a time when he wasn't a starting goaltender — his debut season with 1994 Winnipeg Jets.

So it's no wonder he had to struggle for an answer when asked if he could find happiness, some 18 years and 743 games later, being a backup again.

"I don't know," he shrugged after a long delay. "I've never been in that situation before so I don't know what to tell you."