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That Was Pointless

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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Comments

Down River Dan's avatar

All of this is much ado about nothing.  I have no idea why Detroit signed Nabokov.  They had nothing to gain from the move

Of course they something to gain. A solid insurance policy for a goalie coming back from a torn groin.

  Now, of course I understand the point you were trying to make, but the old cliche “nothing ventured,,,,nothing gained” seems to apply here.

  I would prefer Kenny to be proactive, and thinking “outside the box” ( I know another cliche) than to stand pat with Joey Macdonald potentially his playoff backup.

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/22/11 at 10:40 PM ET

Kalashnikov's avatar

He wanted to join the red wings and have a shot at the cup. He tried so he could play on a team he liked, not to play for a bottom feeder.  He gave it a shot at making it threw waivers but was unsuccessful. It wasn’t pointless, it was a shot at maybe getting him the best chance he had at his first cup.

As for the red wings, would you want pearce or macdonald as your backup? or a goalie who won 40+ games in the last 2 season, was nominated for a vezina and was an allstar? i think for 570k the wings had a great reason to try and bring him. What if howard goes down with an injury again or if osgood is going to be out for longer then his estimated return would be. It makes perfect sense to try and bring in a goalie of Nabokovs caliber.

Posted by Kalashnikov on 01/22/11 at 10:51 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

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?

has any player ever made it through re-entry waivers?  yep.

so the attempt is not pointless.

oh, gee…look at that.  it happened RECENTLY.

http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2010-12-15/brian-rolston-clears-waivers

Left winger Brian Rolston, who was put on waivers by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, watched Wednesday as the struggling team went through its morning skate in preparation for a game Rolston would play in later that day against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Nobody claimed Rolston by noon ET Wednesday, and GM Lou Lamoriello said Rolston would play against the Coyotes. He couldn’t participate in the pregame skate because the waiver process was not complete.

Prucha also cleared re-entry waivers with Phoenix.

Valabik also cleared re-entry waivers with Atlanta..although the irony is the team was doing it to try and get someone else to take him.

anyway, players clear re-entry waivers sometimes.  so it’s not pointless to try.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/22/11 at 11:02 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It would be valuable if Detroit could sign Evgeni Nabokov and have him play for them.

Everyone (who isn’t in denial) knew there was no chance of that happening.  They were signing him for somebody else.  So why bother?  Pointless.

And Paul Boris Valabik and petr Prucha are not comparable in talent to Nabokov or as low paid.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/22/11 at 11:04 PM ET

Kalashnikov's avatar

The last thing the league needs is players dictating where they will play and not play.

Isn’t that exactly what free agency is? why have that? why not just have a team sign the player on free agency day and let him go through waivers and if another team wants him they can have him first. The fact is,players dont want to play for a terrible team with no shot of going anywhere, if they are going into their final year or years of playing then why not sign with a team that has a chance?

He thought detroit had a good shot at winning the cup and signed to play for them not for the islanders. Why would the islanders even claim him when they had to have known he wouldnt report.

Posted by Kalashnikov on 01/22/11 at 11:14 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

It would be valuable if Detroit could sign Evgeni Nabokov and have him play for them.

Everyone (who isn’t in denial) knew there was no chance of that happening.  They were signing him for somebody else.  So why bother?  Pointless.

“everyone said” New Jersey was going to claim him.  did they?  nope.

so what has changed?  Nabokov is back in the NHL.  Detroit controlled the contract, so he’s a free agent at the end of the season - whether he plays for anyone or not.  then he’s ripe for Detroit to sign him in the offseason (Osgood and Howard will both be free agents), with no waiver issues.

if you think Holland did this with no plan in mind, then you haven’t been paying attention to the masterful job he has done as GM in Detroit.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:15 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Why would the islanders even claim him when they had to have known he wouldnt report.

except his agent said he’d to whoever got him.  was that a strategic lie?  maybe.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:16 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

if you think Holland did this with no plan in mind, then you haven’t been paying attention to the masterful job he has done as GM in Detroit.

I think Ken Holland has done a great job in Detroit and I think this move was pointless and Detroit has no way whatsoever to benefit from it.  I think that was obviously the case before Nabokov was signed and as events have played out, it is clear that is the case.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 12:18 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I think Ken Holland has done a great job in Detroit and I think this move was pointless and Detroit has no way whatsoever to benefit from it.

so getting him back into the NHL with a contract that was on Detroit’s terms, with the ability to sign him in the offseason when both of their existing goalies’ contracts expire, does not benefit Detroit?

I’d say it does.  and it’s brilliant.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:21 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Detroit has the ability to sign Nabokov next summer with or without this contract.

The only sensible thing would have been to wait until then or claim Nabokov on waivers when somebody else signed him.

Now there is a faint chance that Nabokov will be forced to play with the Islanders next year.  The precident is that Alexei Yashin held out a season with Ottawa and was forced by an arbitrator to give them another year to make up for it.  That could happen now.  The Islanders would then have Nabokov next year.  Then Detroit can’t sign him at all.  Without the contract this year they could have signed him next summer - clearly this contract now has nothing to do with who could sign him next summer unless he is forced to give a team the year he signed for by arbitration.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 12:25 AM ET

Avatar

If you knew it was pointless and he would never clear waivers, why did you wait until after the waiver period expired to post this?  Maybe you thought there was a slim chance of him clearing?

Posted by herschel c. wollmack on 01/23/11 at 12:31 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Herschel

I did.  It is a clear conclusion from this Marek Svatos post and even more clearly laid out in this Kyle Wellwood post.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 12:41 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Detroit has the ability to sign Nabokov next summer with or without this contract.

I haven’t been able to confirm that a player returning from another league would have zero restrictions as a free agent in the offseason.  got a link to the rules on this?

The only sensible thing would have been to wait until then or claim Nabokov on waivers when somebody else signed him.

why?  if they could get him now, and there was a chance they could, why not try?  it didn’t hamper their ability to sign him in the offseason.

Now there is a faint chance that Nabokov will be forced to play with the Islanders next year.

I doubt that is true.

The precident is that Alexei Yashin held out a season with Ottawa and was forced by an arbitrator to give them another year to make up for it.  That could happen now.  The Islanders would then have Nabokov next year.  Then Detroit can’t sign him at all.  Without the contract this year they could have signed him next summer - clearly this contract now has nothing to do with who could sign him next summer unless he is forced to give a team the year he signed for by arbitration.

they are completely different situations.  I don’t believe they compare.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:44 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Herschel

I did.  It is a clear conclusion from this Marek Svatos post and even more clearly laid out in this Kyle Wellwood post.

you posted two articles about it being obvious Nabokov would not clear waivers, before the Wings even signed him and he had to go through waivers?  I didn’t realize you could predict the future.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:45 AM ET

Avatar

Then you could have posted this immediately upon the Wings signing Nabokov and it would have had more validity.  Why wait?  And if it was clearly stated in the other posts, why even post this at all?  “See I told you so” after the fact does not carry as much weight as “Here we go again” would have before the fact.  So I conclude that you were waiting to make sure he didn’t clear waivers before you said you were sure all along.

Posted by herschel c. wollmack on 01/23/11 at 12:48 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I haven’t been able to confirm that a player returning from another league would have zero restrictions as a free agent in the offseason.  got a link to the rules on this?

I dont think there is a link, but I can confirm it for you.  If Nabokov returned from another league as an unrestircted free agent this summer there would be no restrictions on who he signed with.  It would be just like when Ray Emery came back and signed in Philadelphia.

why?  if they (Detroit) could get him (Nabokov) now, and there was a chance they could, why not try?

They couldn’t get him now.  There was zero chance a player of his talent would clear waivers with a contract that cheap.

Detroit signed Nabokov for somebody else and must have known going in they were doing that.  If Ken Holland didn’t know that, then he was negligent.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 12:50 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Herschel

Because my blog isn’t all Nabokov all the time.  The point was pretty clear if had been reading it and paying attention.  I wanted to discuss other topics sometimes.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 12:52 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

They couldn’t get him now.  There was zero chance a player of his talent would clear waivers with a contract that cheap.

yeah because Rolston is a slouch, that’s why he cleared waivers.

there was more than zero chance he would clear.

Detroit signed Nabokov for somebody else and must have known going in they were doing that.  If Ken Holland didn’t know that, then he was negligent.

it’s extremely unlikely Holland was simply negligent.  so two possibilities exist:

1 - it was worth a shot, and they lost nothing in trying

2 - Holland knew he wouldn’t clear, but is up to something

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:57 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Because my blog isn’t all Nabokov all the time.  The point was pretty clear if had been reading it and paying attention.  I wanted to discuss other topics sometimes.

LOL

it’s been the biggest story in the NHL the past few days.  EVERYONE has been talking and posting about it.

if you KNEW he would NOT clear waivers, and this was a pointless (and possibly stupid) thing to do…why wouldn’t you post it before it was over?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 12:58 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

it’s extremely unlikely Holland was simply negligent.  so two possibilities exist:

1 - it was worth a shot, and they lost nothing in trying

2 - Holland knew he wouldn’t clear, but is up to something

1.  False.  It was obvious to all that it wasn’t going to work.  Nabokov would not clear waivers.  He was signed by Detroit for a rival to benefit from him.

2.  There is nothing at this point that benefits Detroit from the situation. 

The best explanation I have is that Ken Holland didn’t care in the least bit about Nabokov.  He was doing a favor to him Nabokov and Don Meehan to get him back into the NHL with somebody - whoever claims him on waivers.  Holland didn’t care that it would poentially hurt Detroit if a rival acquired Nabokov.

That explanation seems pretty far fetched when it turns out Nabokov won’t report to the team that claimed him, but its the best I have got.

If the answer really is that Holland thought he might clear waivers with Nabokov, then Holland was deluded and negligent in this case.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 01:13 AM ET

Avatar

Detroit has the ability to sign Nabokov next summer with or without this contract.

You’re right, but the one thing they’ve done is establish an interest in him.  They took a chance to sign him when nobody else did, which could be seen by him and his agent as a good faith deal, so when July 1st comes and a handful of teams potentially come a-knocking, he’s going to make sure to look in Detroit’s direction. 

Detroit will obviously try to sign their outstanding free agents and may not have a lot left to offer, but Nabokov might be willing to take less based on the fact that Ken Holland showed interest in him, signing to a contract based on the hope that Nabokov would pass waivers.

So, you’re not wrong about it being pointless, in the context of this season, but in the overall context of trying to get Nabokov in a red & white jersey next year and possibly beyond, it could end up being a very smart move.

Mark my words, if Nabokov signs in Detroit it will be for less than other teams offer, and he’ll say that a big part of his decision was the fact that Detroit went after him when he was sitting at home twiddling his thumbs.

Posted by Garth on 01/23/11 at 01:22 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

1.  False.  It was obvious to all that it wasn’t going to work.  Nabokov would not clear waivers.  He was signed by Detroit for a rival to benefit from him.

the Islanders are a rival of Detroit?

which actual Detroit rival had the cap space to sign him?

If the answer really is that Holland thought he might clear waivers with Nabokov, then Holland was deluded and negligent in this case.

you can deny it all you want, but there was a possibility he would clear.  if anyone else wanted him, why didn’t they sign him?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 01/23/11 at 01:32 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

if anyone else wanted him, why didn’t they sign him?

Because anyone else knew they had no chance of getting him through waivers and didn`t want to sign a player for their opponents.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 01:36 AM ET

John W.'s avatar

I’m almost wondering if all this trying to sign these players (Wellwood, Svatos, Nabokov) knowing that the chances of actually getting them was slim, was to show just how stupid the current rule is, and try to get it changed in the future.  A rule that essentially gives the team signing a player the least possible chance of getting the player is just moronic.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 01/23/11 at 01:42 AM ET

CaptNorris5's avatar

Interesting thought: Maybe he was so willing to go with such a cheap contract because not only would it be beneficial if he somehow cleared waivers, but also enticed a team like the Isle to put in the claim before Chicago, Columbus, Colorado, or San Jose got it in their heads to move some money around and make something happen. Unlikely that its the case, but why not? It at least rebuts the idea that Kenny somehow ran the risk of helping a rival team.

Either way, your assertion that this move gives absolutely no possible benefit to the Wings is simply wrong. First, there was at least a potential, as admittedly infinitesimal as it was, that he’d clear waivers. That happens and Kenny looks like a super-genius. Much more likely: Nabby gets claimed by one of the lowest teams in the standings that clearly pose no long term threat to the Wings. Kenny’s relationship with a key agent gets a bit better, and Nabby sees one of the intangibles of the Red Wings organization that have drawn players to the system for some time: the way they treat players. Maybe that helps come July if he decides he wants to make a run at him for a 1/1A system. Or, if nothing else, it at least makes a statement to Jimmy, Ozzie, and their agents that there are other options out there so hard-ball isn’t really going to be an option in upcoming contract negotiations.

Either way - nothing was lost. While the benefits may not have been huge, what the hell is wrong with taking a shot at it, especially when the near-worst-case-scenario still ends in a positive?

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 01/23/11 at 02:16 AM ET

CaptNorris5's avatar

Also, I’m not sure you understand the definition of negligent…

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 01/23/11 at 02:18 AM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

What’s pointless is the fact that the Islanders even picked him up off of waivers. 

They have zero chance of making the playoffs and a goalie that’s already locked up for almost a decade making $5+ per year.

They can’t even trade him to get a pick.

Pointless.

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 01/23/11 at 05:54 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The point was supposed to be that Nabokov would be the best Islanders goalie - but as long as Nabokov won’t play for them it is pointless.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/23/11 at 06:26 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

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 with any team that claimed him.  It turned out that statement is not true.

Sorry, but I’ve been on vacation a week and missed this news, but can you clarify this statement, as it seems to be missing a word and I don’t want to misunderstand something before I form an opinion.

Did you mean to say he released a statement that he’ll play with any team that claimed him?

Clarity please…

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/23/11 at 06:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Thanks for correcting it…

I also found it elsewhere that it’s his agent who released that statement, but that’s too pedantic a point to take up at this point.

With that statement’s release, then it’s a little weird.  It is a no-risk move by Holland to have done this, but it does point out how ridiculous this old rule has become.  I’m not saying it should be repealed, because there’s a good point to it, but it should be… adjusted.

Part of me wants to think that the Isles did this because they knew Nabby would not report and would get suspended and that could cause an additional bit of strife between the league and the players, since the Isles are one of the teams who are the least satisfied with the current CBA and want a bigger cut off players’ salaries.

That still wouldn’t surprise me, as it lends interesting context to every one of the Islanders move this season if you look at it with the idea that they’re doing everything they can to simply cause trouble and stir up controversy so they can be heard when it comes time to renegotiate.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/23/11 at 07:14 PM ET

Bossy_Rules's avatar

I think the Isles should suspend him so that they have him under contract for next year.  Then they can trade him in the offseason when he will no longer need to clear waivers before being traded.  In this scenario they won’t pay him a dime and they’ll get something from it.

Posted by Bossy_Rules on 01/24/11 at 05:06 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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