NHL: Five Teams That Should Nab Nabby Before the Detroit Red Wings

January 21st, 2011 by Simon Cherin-Gordon Leave a reply »

Evgeni Nabokov didn’t deserve his fate this past off-season. He had played a great ten year career in which he had gone 293-178 in net for the San Jose Sharks with a .912 save %, 2.39 GAA, and 50 shutouts. He led the Sharks to the playoffs in 8 of his 9 seasons as a starter, and was coming off a sensational season, maybe the best of his career.

After the Sharks were eliminated by Antti Niemi and Chicago in the Conference Finals, Nabokov’s contract was up. The elite goalie Nabokov sat and watched as lesser-known goalies duked it out for the Stanley Cup.

He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In sports, unsuccessful teams follow successful trends. As high-profile, high paid goalies like Nabby, Martin Brodeur, Ryan Miller, and Roberto Luongo got outplayed by relative no-names in the 2010-11 playoffs, GM’s around the league decided, almost collectively, that money would be better spent elsewhere than goalie in a salary capped league.

With Jaroslav Halak coming off gigantic playoff performances, keying Montreal’s upsets over Washington and Pittsburgh, Halak was the only goalie on the market considered a hot commodity. While teams either bid on Halak or hoped to find cheaper goalies who had that “it” about them, that special switch that would click on for 16 wins in the spring, the best goalie on the entire market, Evgeni Nabokov, was frozen out.

The Sharks opted to sign Patrick Marleau to a deal that put them too near the cap to afford Nabby. They later picked up Antti Niemi as his replacement.

No one wanted to pay him starting goalie money, and Nabby decided to go play in his home country of Russia rather than take a small contract and go somewhere where a starting job wasn’t guaranteed.

But he stopped playing in the KHL back in December, and he has reached a deal with the Red Wings.

Before he is signed officially, however, all 29 other NHL teams can claim him off of waivers, starting with the league’s worst team.

Multiple teams with goalie issues may realize that, if they don’t claim Nabby now, they will either have to trade for a quality goalie or be stuck with what they have the rest of the season.

With that being said, here are the five teams that should strongly consider nabbing Nabokov.

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