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Evgeni Nabokov goes to the Islanders (updated repeatedly)

Per Craig Custance’s Tweet, the New York Islanders have claimed Evgeni Nabokov off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings.

Update 12:04 PM: TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos confirm.

Update 12:06 PM: The CBC’s Scott Morrison and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun corroborate.

I’ll update the news as it relates to the Red Wings and Ken Holland’s motivation for making the move but as far as Nabokov’s future is concerned, that’s somebody else’s problem (Paul, ha!).  My best guess is that Holland got serious with Don Meehan when Jimmy Howard took a puck off the knee and chose to continue negotiations until their completion for the sakes of both sides.  The Wings would have snagged a cheap insurance policy goalie if he’d cleared and Nabokov gets a fresh start now that he’s been plucked off the waiver wire.

Update 12:11 PM: Long-time Islanders super blogger Chris Botta weighs in on the news.

Update 12:15 PM: From the Islanders, via Paul:

UNIONDALE, NY, January 22, 2010 – The New York Islanders have claimed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov off of waivers. Nabokov will play under the one-year contract that he signed with the Detroit Red Wings on Jan 20.

Nabokov, 35, began this season with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). According to the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, any player that plays in a different professional league before signing an NHL contract must go through waivers before joining the team.

In 22 games this season with St. Petersburg, Nabokov posted an 8-8-5 record with a 3.02 goals against average (GAA) and a .888 save percentage (sv%). The Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan native was drafted in the ninth round, 219th overall, of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. In nine NHL seasons with San Jose, Nabokov appeared in 563 games, posting a 293-178-29-37 (W-L-T-OT) record with a 2.39 GAA and a .912 sv%. He also played in 80 NHL playoff games with San Jose, posting a 40-38 record with a 2.29 GAA and a .913 sv%.

So will he report?  Here’s what Don Meehan, his agent, told MLive’s Ansar Khan on Friday:

Meehan said Nabokov will play regardless of where he ends up, nixing speculation that he would sit out the season if he were claimed by a club for whom he did not want to play.

“He wants to get visibility for next year,” Meehan said.

Update 12:32 PM: For the record, I’m guessing that the Wings will allow Joey MacDonald to continue playing for the Griffins as they wrap up their home-and-still-at-home series against the Chicago Wolves tonight and will recall him after the game.

Update 12:38 PM: Fanhouse’s Adam Gretz and Custance weigh in.

Update 12:40 PM: Ansar Khan, Helene St. James, Ted Kulfan and Chuck Pleiness confirm.  It’ll be interesting to find out Holland’s rationale for making the move knowing that Nabokov would be picked up.

Update 12:53 PM: Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy, the Detroit News’s Eric Lacy, ESPN and Bleacher Report’s Matt Hutter (yeah, I know, Bleacher Report, but Hutter’s their dedicated Wings writer and he’s good at what he does) all weigh in.

Update 12:57 PM: Holland Via Khan:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said it was “a unique opportunity’’ to acquire a goalie of Nabokov’s caliber, one the club had to explore.

“We tried something,’’ Holland said Saturday. “There was a huge opportunity when you get to sign a player and there’s no acquisition fee, you don’t have to trade anybody, give up any prospects and it’s a low base salary. You never know if it’s going to work until you try it.’‘
Holland said he’ll continue to explore opportunities but isn’t specifically seeking a goalie. Osgood is expected to return in early to mid-March after having sports hernia surgery on Jan. 11.

“I didn’t make the move because I was concerned about our goaltending or Chris Osgood’s health,’’ Holland said. “We were exploring a unique opportunity.  Now, we move on.’‘

Holland said Joey MacDonald, who was assigned on Friday to the Grand Rapids Griffins in case Nabokov cleared, will return to Detroit this week and back-up Howard until Osgood is healthy. Jordan Pearce, who was recalled to back-up Howard for today’s game against Chicago, will go back down.

Update 12:59 PM: Here’s Holland via St. James:

“We tried something, and he’s been claimed by another team,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We move on. It’s the nature of the rules and the league.”

Contrary to speculation that a team that claims a player can turn around and trade him to the team that originally wanted the player, that’s not quite so easy. Holland said the Islanders would have to put Nabokov on waivers, giving any other team that might have put in a claim for him first dibs. It is not known whether any other team did put in a claim (the team ranked lowest in the standings gets him). Asked if the chances of getting Nabokov are over, Holland replied, “yep.”
Holland said the Wings will continue to keep their eyes open, but Nabokov represented a special situation in that he didn’t require moving any assets in a trade and was cheap enough to fit onto a healthy Wings squad and still stay below the salary cap.

Update 1:06 PM: For the record, I don’t expect the Wings to successfully land another back-up goaltender.  Holland is loath to give up assets for short-term fixes.

Update 2:42 PM: Per Larry Lage and Ira Podell, Chris Osgood is a smart man:

“I haven’t put much thought into it, but the Islanders are terrible so I’m not sure why they did that,’’ said Osgood, a former New York goalie.

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George Malik's avatar

A game thread should hit around 1:50…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/22/11 at 04:42 PM ET

Cwix's avatar

What’s this basketball crap during RW Live?

Posted by Cwix from Grand Rapids, now Roanoke, VA on 01/22/11 at 04:47 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Ah fuch…

Kinda expected the Isles to get him but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Thanks for the updates, George.  You’ve been awesome staying on top of the news.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 01/22/11 at 05:06 PM ET


This is interesting.  Nabokov’s agent said that he will not report to the team


Posted by mtlj45 on 01/22/11 at 06:43 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

re: the Ozzie quote - oooooo, snap.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 01/22/11 at 07:49 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Now that he won’t report to Isles (Surprise, Surprse).  How long does the WangSnow gong show have to do something?  Apparently Nabby told Isles he wouldn’t report prior to waiver claim.  I guess they are deaf as well as dumb.  Like some anticipated being claimed was not the end,

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/22/11 at 08:21 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com