The Edmonton Oilers announced on Wednesday that goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will undergo back surgery to repair a herniated disk.
Khabibulin, 37, hasn't appeared in a game since Nov. 16. He was 7-9-2 in 18 appearances, with a 3.03 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
The Oilers did not announce a timetable for the veteran's return, but agent Jay Grossman said his client will need 12 weeks to recover from surgery.
With Edmonton far off the pace in the Western Conference, Khabibulin may have played his last game of the season.
Second-year goalie Jeff Deslauriers has played well in Khabibulin's absence, but the Oilers signed the Russian to a contract worth $15 million US over four years in the summer to carry the load in net.
Edmonton dropped a 5-3 game to Nashville at Rexall Place on Tuesday. The Oilers have gone 1-11-1 since mid-December and are in last place in the West, eight points behind the next worst team.