The Islanders Informer
by William Morrison on 10/28/11 at 03:44 PM ET
In four starts this season for the Islanders, Evgeni Nabokov has compiled a 2.23 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Nabokov did give up two goals last night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Penguins, but he played very solid and stopped 30 of 32 shots. There has been much talk amid rumors that the Isles are using Nabokov as trade bait because the Islanders have a surplus of goalies both at the NHL and AHL levels. If that is in fact the case, Nabokov has shown that he can still be a very quality goalie in the NHL and other teams should be intrigued by his play so far this season.
Al Montoya and Nabokov have been awarded all eight starts so far this season. Both goalies have started four games each. Montoya has compiled a 2-2 record with a 2.02 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Overall, both goalies have played very well. My guess is that Rick DiPietro will get a start either Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks or next Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets come to Long Island.
The best situation for the Isles would obviously be for DiPietro to play very well in a few starts within the next couple of weeks. If DiPietro plays well and both Montoya and Nabokov continue to play well, the Isles are going to have a decision to make. While I’m not a huge proponent of the Isles using Nabokov as trade bait, I think it is the smartest thing for the Isles to do if all three goalies are playing well.
Garth Snow and Charles Wang are not going to part with DiPietro. Even after playing three seasons at the University of Michigan and spending parts of six seasons between the ECHL, AHL, and NHL, Montoya is still only 26 years old. Montoya has a lot of upside to his game and has certainly shown as much this year. Nabokov is 36 years old and is coming to the end of his career. If DiPietro makes a few starts and plays well, the Isles will most likely see what they can get for Nabokov on the trade market. If the Isles can get something of value in return and all three goalies are playing well, a decision needs to be made. The Isles can’t keep three goalies on the NHL roster all season. When goalies are in a groove and playing well, they need to continue to get starts and keep their momentum going and that can’t happen with three goalies on the roster.
Hopefully the “lower body injury” and “fatigue” that Nabokov suffered from last night, which caused DiPietro to come in for the shootout, will not linger. It sounds like fatigue was the main factor in bringing DiPietro in for the shootout, but that seems bizarre so early in the season and could be a concern going forward.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks. The coaching staff has a few decisions to make. The Isles must decide how many starts each goalie should get, whether those starts should be back to back, and they must decide how long the team will keep three goalies on the NHL roster.
What do you guys think the Isles should do? If Nabokov continues to play well, should the Isles try to trade him?
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Welcome to The Islanders Informer. TII will be a forum for discussion, debate, and both Islander and hockey related news.
I'm an attorney by day and hockey fan by night. I'm always open to feedback, suggestions, agreements, disagreements, opinions, and discussion.