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.

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    WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

    You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

    On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

    The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

    Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday

     

    ‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

    Valeri Nichushkin
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    Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

    However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

    For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

    As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

    His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

    Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

    Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

    “We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

    “Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

    “He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

     

    Coyotes hire new COO

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

    The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

    Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

    Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

    Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

    Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

    Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

    COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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    Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

    Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

    “Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

    Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.