Abel to Yzerman
by George Malik on 01/21/11 at 12:33 AM ET
Per the Detroit Red Wings’ Twitter feed, the Red Wings have officially signed Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year deal at, per Capgeek.com, a pro-rated $570,000 salary (or $250,000 for the remainder of the season). The Wings have to put him on waivers at 12 PM EST on Friday and he can be claimed until
Saturday at noon. As previously noted, there’s a whole bunch of innuendo and absolutely no answers from Red Wings GM Ken Holland as to why he’s pursuing Nabokov…it’s safe to say that we’ll know why by Saturday, at which time it’s highly unlikely that Nabokov will be asking Drew Miller for his jersey number.
Update 10:36 PM: Per Fox Sports Detroit’s Mickey Redmond, Ken Holland popped into the booth as the buzzer went and said, yes, they have signed Nabokov, the deal was signed, paving the way possibly to bring him to Detroit but as Ken Daniels says he has to clear waivers first. As far as Daniels is concerned, this has to do with insurance until Chris Osgood comes back—and because he might not be back at 100% when he returns mid-March—so the Wings have made an insurance signing and will see what happens. Daniels also says that he can’t be sent to the AHL for a conditioning stint, nor can he be moved by the team that claims him, assuming that he is claimed. Update again: Redmond also made a good point that the Wings can tempt a 3-headed goalie monster for about a month’s worth of regular season given that Nabokov hasn’t played in the NHL and is obviously motivated to prove that he’s still a capable goaltender—if he clears, anyway…
As I reported in my previous post, Sport-Express’s Igor Larin spoke to Nabkov’s Russian agent, Sergei Isakov, and then conveniently suggested that the Hurricanes and/or Senators would be the favorites for Nabokov in the waiver derby.
Update 10:55 PM: Herm Himself offers this, via TSN’s Bob McKenzie:
As @darrendreger reported much earlier today, Nabokov’s annual salary in DET is $570K.
Nabokov’s agent Don Meehan sent a letter to all NHL teams prior to signing saying Nabokov wants to be able to compete as a starter.
Nabokov has a No Move clause in his contract with DET. Cannot be put on waivers (after tomorrow, which is req’d) without his permission.
An interesting suggestion from Jeff Marek:
@TSNBobMcKenzie that must mean Osgood is done for the season.
My bottom-of-my-foot-long-goatee line: One way or another, speculation doesn’t do us much good until we find out whether Nabokov clears waivers. I don’t expect him to do so. If he does, then we can assume that Nabokov’s insurance and is going to allow Osgood to fully recover—and we can also start asking questions as to whether Osgood, who’s battled all sorts of groin injuries since the lockout, is tuckered out from the literal wear and tear and wants to retire, though it’s hard to believe that the Wings could re-sign Howard—and they will do just that—and afford to have Nabokov around next year as a similar sort of insurance policy.
If he doesn’t, we can ponder whether Holland’s greasing the wheels for a trade deadline move (the Wings could use a depth defenseman and/or forward as usual), whether he’s going to get a mid-round draft pick in return from the team that signs him as “future considerations,” or whether he’s just repaying a favor to the GM of the team that claims him.
Until then, even given the fact that Wings GM Ken Holland is going to make comments to the Detroit press that will follow these comments sooner than later? We’re gonna have to wait till noon on Saturday to find out what this move really means, if it means anything at all.
Update 11:04 PM: Per McKenzie, again:
If claimed on waivers by another team, Nabokov cannot be traded or waived again without DET having first option to take him back.
Update 11:14 PM: Per McKenzie, one more time:
Just to clarify, Nabokov cannot be traded because he would have to go back to the wings on waivers. My point is he can’t go to 3rd party…without the Wings having the chance to take him back first. Did not word it correctly the first time. Sorry for confusion.
Update 11:20 PM: Pension Plan Puppets has a fantastic waiver primer if you’re as confused about the issue as I am.
Look for Detroit to work out a deal with the Devils to claim Nabokov on waivers to avoid the St. Louis troubles with Svatos and Wellwood.
Well this little bit from The Sporting News’s Craig Custance is interesting…Will Nabokov be claimed?
“My guess is no,” one NHL general manager told Sporting News.
So what would that mean about Osgood’s recovery from hernia surgery?
“It all depends on how good a healer he is, how quickly he can get back and get ready,” Osgood’s agent, Roland Thompson, told Sporting News on Thursday evening. “Hernias are a tough thing, they can drag on for a long time, especially if you’re a goalie.”
Osgood was on a treadmill for 45 minutes the day after his operation, but the addition of Nabokov would ease any pressure on him to rush back into the lineup. In fact, it might help the Red Wings’ salary-cap situation if he stayed on long-term injured reserve. Osgood, like Howard, is an unrestricted free agent after this season but is more likely to follow the Kirk Maltby path and join the team’s front office rather than play elsewhere if there isn’t room on the roster.
“He’s in Detroit’s long-term plans,” Thompson said. “But it’s too early to speculate. He still has a desire to compete.”
What about this whole, “Howard isn’t good enough” stuff?
“Their goaltending has been good, the times I’ve seen Howard play,” Chicago GM Stan Bowman told Sporting news. “I don’t think there’s an issue in goal in Detroit. They’re just looking for stability or insurance for injuries. They have a good goalie already.”
I don’t have any complaints about Howard…The Wings have given up more shots and have been quite sloppy in their own end, and yes, he’s got to improve his technique a wee little bit because he’s been picked apart by video scouting and there’s no surprise factor anymore, but he still wins games and is on track to win 30-40 consistently…
Update, midnight-ish: The Free Press’s George Sipple asked Wings coach Mike Babcock what he thought about the Nabokov signing, and maybe it was the quick flight back to Detroit (N682RW is still in St. Louis as of midnight) or the exhaustion of the last two months’ of crazy scheduling talking, but Babcock offered a sharp retort:
“My comment is, he’s not our player, so when he becomes our player, then I’ll talk about him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about Nabokov following a 4-3 overtime win over the Blues tonight at the Scottrade Center. “Even though we’ve signed him – until he clears waivers and becomes a Red Wings, there’s no sense talking about him. St. Louis has been through it a couple times already. Why would we talk about a player that’s not ours?”
Wings general manager Ken Holland also declined to further comment on tonight. Don Meehan, Nabokov’s agent, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Holland did agree, as he told MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland declined comment, saying, “He’s nobody’s player until noon on Saturday.’‘
Kris Draper agrees with Khan’s insider’s suggestion that there’s no way in hell that Nabokov will dress in Detroit on Saturday…
“That was a bit of a surprise, but there’s still a long way in the whole process before that becomes a reality that he’s here,” Draper said. “I don’t think there’s too many teams who are going to be willing to help us out (by not claiming him). You just have to look down the hall here (at the Blues) and see what happens with a team signing a player and him going through waivers. We’ll have to see what the process is.”
Draper also said that Osgood’s on that six-to-eight-week sports hernia surgery recovery schedule (TM)...
“He’s seen the way I responded and I basically had the same surgery (Oct. 21), same doctor (William Meyers),” Draper said. “He’s just going to go through the same protocol. I’ve seen him a couple of times since the surgery, he’s moving around, he’s walking.’‘
And even Howard got a bit testy when asked about Nabokov’s status as a starting netminder who might split starts with #35:
“I don’t need anybody to push me,’’ Howard said. “I push myself. I work hard in practice every single day and I just go out there and try to win games for the guys.’‘
Update 12:21 AM: More from Paul on the Devils angle:
@Ledger_NJDevils: Devils may claimn goalie Evgeni Nabokov and then put him on waivers so Red Wings can claim him and complete their acquisition.
Update 12:24 AM: Fanhouse’s Bruce Ciskie believes that the Blackhawks, Lightning, Sharks, Blue Jackets and Thrashers could all put claims in on Nabokov.
Update 1:36 AM: I’m a night owl, so I usually don’t have headaches at this hour, but this is just…too…confusing…Per the Newark Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere:
The Devils may claim goaltender Evgeni Nabokov on waivers and then put him back on waivers Friday so that he can sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
Nabokov started this season in the Kontinental Hockey League, so he must clear waivers to play in the NHL.
The Devils would be doing the Red Wings a favor by claiming Nabokov and then putting him back on waivers. The Red Wings have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $570,000 deal with the veteran goalie.
So this might not be done till Monday, because a player who’s placed back on waivers on a Saturday hangs out there for 48 hours…
Update 9:11 AM: Draper reiterated his comments to the Free Press’s George Sipple, who noted that Jimmy Howard’s at least keeping an open mind about the possible addition…
Asked about the Nabokov signing, Howard said: “That’s out of my hands. That’s up to management and what they think. If he can help us, he can help us.”
Asked whether he thought Nabokov, 35, was signed as insurance or to push him, Howard said: “I don’t need anyone to push me. I push myself. I work hard in practice every single day, and I just go out there and try to win games for the guys.”
As the narrative continues, my cobbled-together-in-the-middle-of-the-night theory as to what motivated Holland to sign Nabokov is as follows:
The best educated guess I can make is that Holland chose to talk contract turkey with Don Meehan when Howard suffered that stinger off his knee, probably fearing that Howard had broken his right patella. When the Wings found out that Howard would be okay, Holland and Meehan simply chose to continue cobbling together a cap-friendlier contract, with the Red Wings crossing their fingers that Nabokov will clear waivers and add depth and Meehan canvassing the rest of the league with a, “My client wants a starting job” fax or email to let them know that Nabokov would sign with and then be waived by an NHL team.
In this scenario, Holland may or may not be doing another GM a favor in exchange for mid-round draft pick “considerations” down the line and/or some sort of trade wheel-greasing, but the overriding goal is to simply see the process through for Meehan, Nabokov and the sake of the Wings’ team depth.
Update 9:15 AM: The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell adds this from Holland:
Holland said the move to sign Nabokov wasn’t prompted by some setback for Osgood, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
“Everything I’ve been told he’s right on schedule,” Holland said. “The surgery went well. He is rehabbing. All indications are everything went well. March (return), that’s the hope. Can’t read the future. Barring any setbacks he’s six to eight weeks.”
“Whatever helps the team, helps the team,” Howard said of the sudden developments. “But I think for the most part everyone in here is planning on having (Osgood) back whenever he’s due.”
Update 1:35 PM per Tom Gulitti:
Lamoriello said Devils will not put in waiver claim for Nabokov.
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