by PuckStopsHere on 01/22/11 at 09:35 PM ET
On Thursday it was announced that Evgeni Nabokov had signed a contract for the remainder of the year with the Detroit Red Wings. The contract has a salary cap hit of $570,000 and would pay him less than half of that amount since less than half of the regular season remains. Because Nabokov had played in a major European league earlier this season (KHL), he was subject to re-entry waivers and there was very little chance he would actually play for the Red Wings.
Somebody else would claim him just like somebody claimed Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood from the St Louis Blues. Svatos was claimed by Nashville and Wellwood by San Jose. Both were returning from the KHL.
There is no point for an NHL team to sign a player like that. The player in question will not remain property of the team that signed him. They are merely signing a player for a competitor - so why bother?
The rule that subjects a player to re-entry waivers if they return to play in the NHL in the same season they had already played in a major European league is a relic of the 1980’s. It no longer fits in today’s game. There is no purpose in having this rule. It keeps potential NHL talent out of the league. However, as it exists, there is no point ever signing such a player.
Evgeni Nabokov must have known that there was no chance he would play with the Detroit Red Wings this season. He even released a statement that he would play with any team that claimed him. It turned out that statement is not true.
The New York Islanders claimed Nabokov. Their only veteran goalie is the injury risk Rick DiPietro. He missed his last game due to the flu and has recently had groin issues. The Isles used rookie goalies Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin in their game last night. Lawson left with a knee injury during the game. Obviously Nabokov is an upgrade and could help the Isles.
Nabokov has refused to report to the Islanders. The Islanders cannot trade Nabokov unless he clears waivers, which he likely won’t. Their options are to hope he changes his mind and reports or suspend him for failing to report. This leaves Nabokov out of the NHL. Essentially we had a complicated trip to get to a situation that is not significantly different from where we started. Evgeni Nabokov is still not playing in the NHL.
To add another level of stupidity, the Detroit Red Wings have been forced to make roster moves to accommodate Nabokov, who will not be playing with their team. Once he was signed he was presumed to be a member of their team, even though he had to clear waivers - which seemed unlikely. Joey MacDonald has been in the NHL with the Wings as an emergency callup since Chris Osgood got hurt. With Nabokov on the roster, it was no longer an emergency situation. To prevent subjecting MacDonald to waivers when he was returned to the minors, he was sent down for a day and replaced by Jordan Pierce, who would not have to clear waivers to be returned to the AHL.
All of this is much ado about nothing. I have no idea why Detroit signed Nabokov. They had nothing to gain from the move. If Nabokov won’t play with the team who has claimed him, why did he sign at all? He had nothing to gain from the move. This was all pointless.
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