Evgeni Nabokov Claimed By Islanders
Nabokov had signed a four-year contract in the KHL this past summer, but was released from his contract in December. The Red Wings, lacking goaltending depth due to the injury to Chris Osgood, signed him to a contract late last week. Because Nabokov had played in Europe this season, he had to be exposed to waivers before he could play for the Red Wings. The Islanders, owners of the third-worst record in the league, stepped up and made the waiver claim.
This is the third time in the past month a situation like this has unfolded. In the first two instances, the St. Louis Blues attempted to sign forwards Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood after spending part of this season overseas, only to have the players be claimed on waivers by Nashville and Vancouver respectively.
The idea that Nabokov, who had signed a pro-rated contract worth a reported $570,000, would slip through waivers seemed like a bit of a long shot. The Islanders being the team to step up and make the earliest claim seemed even more improbable (another Western Conference contender like, say, San Jose, seemed like a more likely destination). The Islanders do have a bit of a blackhole between the pipes right now. Veteran Dwayne Roloson was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this month, while Rick DiPietro is, once again, fighting injury.
The Islanders have been playing 20-year-old Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson in net over the past couple of weeks.
Before signing in Russia this summer, the 35-year-old Nabokov had spent his entire career with the Sharks, winning 293 games over 10 seasons.
The next chapter in this saga, as pointed out by Jeff Marek and Newsday's Katie Strang on Twitter, is whether or not Nabokov will actually report to the Islanders. That said, as Chris Botta pointed out over at Islanders Point Blank, Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, went on record to Bob McKenzie saying the goaltender would report to any team that claimed him because he's looking to audition for a contract next season. And in case you're wondering about the Islanders using Nabokov as future trade bait: players claimed on waivers have to be exposed to waivers again before they can be traded.