Will he or won’t he?
That is the question this Saturday floating around regarding goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
The New York Islanders, who have had a three-ring circus when it comes to their goaltending situation this season, put a waiver claim in on Nabokov, seeking to have him join the squad in Long Island. According to one source, however, Nabokov is saying nyet (Russian for no) to those wishes.
Nabokov, who reportedly wanted to play with the Detroit Red Wings, saw that dream go out the door when the Isles claimed him off waivers.
“This was a good opportunity to get a quality goaltender with a proven track record,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow told the Associated Press.
Several reports, however, came to light Saturday that Nabokov wouldn’t report to the Islanders, but Snow said he hadn’t been informed of that.
“That’s news to me,” said Snow, who added that he was waiting for a call back from Nabokov. “We got a player who has a standard player contract and we are looking forward to having him join our organization.”
The Islanders, currently skating with the third worst record in the NHL, grabbed Nabokov two days after the 35-year-old goalie signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings. He had spent this season with SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian KHL and hadn’t yet played for Detroit. The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement notes that any player who plays in a professional league before signing an NHL contract must clear waivers.
According to Snow, a former goalie himself, the Islanders have an airline ticket for Nabokov to fly from Oakland to New York on Sunday when the Islanders will host the Buffalo Sabres in an afternoon game.
Nabokov’s new deal contains a no-move clause.
“When I put the claim in, I had no intention to claim him to move him by any means,” Snow added.
The Islanders (15-24-7) have been less than stellar in goal due to the absence of injured Rick DiPietro and the moving of Dwayne Roloson in the last month to Tampa Bay. New York has been playing in net with rookies Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson in place of DiPietro, who has missed several games recently due to a lingering knee trouble and a case of the flu.
Nabokov was 8-8-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage in 22 games with St. Petersburg. He became a free agent in December after his release by the KHL club in the first season of a four-year deal.
Last season with the San Jose Sharks, Nabokov was 44-16-10 with a 2.43 GAA and helped the Sharks to the Western Conference finals against eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
For his career in the NHL, Nabokov has gone on to a 293-178-29-37 mark with a 2.39 GAA and a .912 save percentage in parts of 10 seasons with the Sharks. He was 40-38 with a 2.29 GAA and .913 save percentage in 80 career playoff games.
So, will he or won’t he is likely to be the continuing question of the day for an Islanders franchise that is in need of some good news these days in the pipes
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Written by Dave Thomas