Evgeni Nabokov's San Jose Sharks days are over

nabbygone.jpgEvgeni Nabokov has been with the San Jose Sharks for 10 seasons and for at least nine of those he was the team’s No. 1 starter. What has been rumored in many circles (including PHT) seems to be true now; the 2009-10 season will be the Russian goalie’s last year in teal.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson announced that the team would allow Nabokov to leave the team next week via unrestricted free agency.

Wilson noted a direction in the NHL in which teams have had great success with lower-paid goaltenders, most recently with Chicago winning the Stanley Cup with Antti Niemi, who made $827,000 this season.

“If you look at the trends in this league the last four or five years in particular and the dollars that are dedicated to that position,” he said. “If you’re dedicating $5 or $6 million, that’s coming out of somewhere else.”

Nabokov has been one of the top goalies in the league the past few years, winning an NHL-best 131 games over the past three seasons. He has a 293-215-29 record in 10 seasons with the Sharks, with a 2.39 goals against average.

Nabokov went 44-26 with a 2.43 goals against average last season, helping the Sharks reach the Western Conference final this year, where they were swept by Chicago.

I can’t help but agree with the idea that cheaper goaltending is the way to go. After all, you really never know with goalies. You know the position is in a state of confusion when supposed no-brainer greats such as Roberto Luongo are being thrown under the bus.

No doubt, bad goaltending can harpoon even on a dominant team’s dreams; the thing is, reputation and salary only seem to hurt a goalie. At least, that’s the way it seems as of late. Just look at the goalies who had the most success in the playoffs: from Tuukka Rask to Craig Anderson, Michael Leighton and – of course – Antti Niemi, none of them made more than $2 million this year. None of them were odds-on favorites to be anything more than doormats or backups (or minor leaguers) with their clubs. Instead, they helped their teams earn unexpectedly deep playoff runs on the cheap.

Still, I get the feeling someone, somewhere will give Nabokov a very nice payday. Although Nabby won’t turn 35 until July 25, he’ll count as a 35+ contract because his new deal will kick in October instead. That could cause some problems for teams trying to make his deal more cap-friendly. Which makes me wonder, would a big chunk of change and some closer-to-home-cooking draw him to the KHL? It’s nothing more than a question – I haven’t read anything concrete about it – but it does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

Either way, Sharks fans might want to pack up their Nabokov jerseys right about now. It’s the end of an era for the goalie and his close-but-not-cigar squad.

Scroll Down For:

    Report: AHL’s Portland Pirates moving to Springfield

    Portland Pirates goalie Mark Visentin makes a save during an AHL hockey game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Andrew Krech) MANDATORY CREDIT
    AP
    Leave a comment

    Looks like the AHL isn’t finished shuffling around teams.

    From the Portland Press Herald:

    The Portland Pirates are leaving Maine.

    Mitch Berkowitz, chair of the board of trustees for county-owned Cross Insurance Arena, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “the Pirates will be headed to Springfield” Massachusetts, but that he did not know further details.

    The city of Springfield has been searching for a team to replace the AHL Falcons, sold last month – although yet to be approved – to the parent Arizona Coyotes, who announced plans to move the franchise to Tucson.

    The Pirates are the AHL affiliates of the Florida Panthers. They’ve been in Portland since 1993, when they started out as the Capitals’ farm team and were coached for a number of years by Barry Trotz.

    Travis Green: ‘I think I’m ready’ to coach in the NHL

    AP
    AP
    Leave a comment

    Travis Green has never coached in the NHL, not even as an assistant.

    But a lengthy career as a player, followed by success as a head coach in the WHL and AHL, has left him feeling prepared to take the next step.

    “I think I’m ready,” Green told Postmedia yesterday. “Every job in the NHL is worth its weight in gold, and I would have 100 per cent interest at options with every team in the league. You hope all your qualities are enticing for one of them.”

    After the Flames fired Bob Hartley yesterday, many are wondering if Green could be a candidate to take over in Calgary. Other head-coaching vacancies exist in Anaheim and Ottawa, and potentially Minnesota.

    For the past three seasons, Green has been the head coach of the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Last year, the Comets made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals, an accomplishment that Green found particularly rewarding since “it wasn’t like we had an all-star team.”

    While some GMs won’t risk hiring a coach without any NHL experience — they’d prefer a guy who’s been there before and knows what to expect — it’s worth noting that Jon Cooper didn’t have an NHL track record before he took over in Tampa Bay, and he’s done OK. Heck, Dave Hastol hadn’t even coached professionals before he landed the job in Philadelphia, and the Flyers seem pretty happy with him.

    Green is under contract for one more season in Utica, but reportedly has an out-clause to pursue an NHL job.

    Related: Will the Sens take a run at Kevin Dineen?

    After Game 3 drubbing, Stars rule out Seguin (again) for Game 4

    Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    Any thought Tyler Seguin flying into St. Louis after last night’s 6-1 blowout loss was wiped out on Wednesday morning, as Stars head coach ruled out both Seguin and fellow forward Patrick Eaves for Game 4.

    The decision comes after Ruff played a bit coy prior to Game 3. While he said neither Seguin nor Eaves would travel with the Stars, he noted both had resumed skating back in Dallas, adding “they have flights into St. Louis every day.”

    Well, the airline schedule doesn’t much matter now.

    Game 4 will be played at Scottrade tomorrow night, which means Stars fans clamoring for Seguin might need to look ahead to Game 5, and the potential implications at hand.

    Should the Stars even up the series at two heading back to Dallas, Seguin could return for Game 5 and provide what would be a huge momentum swinger.

    Should the Stars lose on Thursday and return home down 3-1, Seguin could be inserted into the lineup simply to stave off elimination.

    Or, Seguin could not play at all.

    Whatever the case, Dallas has a tall task at hand — and it goes well beyond surviving life without No. 91. The club has allowed 10 goals over the last two games, and seems to have an issue in goal, where neither Antti Niemi nor Kari Lehtonen has played especially well.

    Andreychuk confident that Stamkos will re-sign in Tampa Bay

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
    AP
    9 Comments

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player Dave Andreychuk is now a member of the club’s senior management team, and he’s confident that the Bolts won’t lose Steven Stamkos to unrestricted free agency this summer.

    “Steven is going to come back. He’s going to be fine,” Andreychuk told Hockey Central today, per Sportsnet.ca.

    “I still believe that Steve Yzerman is trying whatever he can do to sign Steven Stamkos, and I believe it will happen.”

    Andreychuk — whose official title is VP Corporate & Community Affairs — is not part of the Lightning’s hockey operations, but presumably he speaks with Yzerman, the general manager, from time to time.

    Of course, the challenge for Yzerman goes well beyond re-signing the captain. Even with an owner that’s willing to spend to the cap, it simply may not be possible to keep Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Jonathan Drouin.

    All eight of those players need new contracts this summer or next.

    Stamkos, Hedman, and Bishop are pending UFAs, while the other five are pending RFAs.