Evgeni Nabokov leaves the NHL, signs with KHL's SKA St. Petersburg

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evgeninabokov2.jpgIf you missed the 2010 Western Conference final between the San Jose Sharks and the Chicago Blackhawks, you missed Evgeni Nabokov’s last game in the NHL. Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport is reporting that the former Sharks goaltender has signed a four year contract with SKA St. Petersburg (link is in Russian) in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Alexander Zaitsev from website Russian Hockey Fans has the details.

Evgeny Nabokov has signed a 4-year, $24-million contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, as reported by the Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport.

The Sharks already made their bed with goaltending by saying they weren’t bringing back Nabokov in the first place and then signing Antero Niittymaki to seal the deal. The rest of the league followed suit by not hurrying up to sign both Nabokov and Dallas’ Marty Turco. With money seemingly running thin around the NHL and goaltending jobs being filled by less-expensive players, the writing was on the wall for Nabokov and the money was out there to be had back home in Russia. One interesting note to add, according to Yahoo’s Dmitry Chesnokov, SKA St. Petersburg also went out of the way to make special arrangements for Nabokov.

Nabokov’s Russian agent Isakov told Sovetsky Sport that “Nabokov will come over to Russia in the beginning of August with his entire family. We agreed on the sum with the St Petersburg club long time ago, and we were figuring out living related questions lately, which were related to the move of Evgeni’s family to St. Petersburg.”

The curious side effect of all this is the one it has on Ilya Kovalchuk’s negotiations. Earlier today we mentioned that SKA St. Petersburg was also inquiring into Kovalchuk’s availability. The catch with how things go salary cap-wise in the KHL is that each team is allowed to ignore salary restrictions on one player per team. SKA St. Petersburg has now used that exception on Nabokov, thus making any potential offers to Kovalchuk impossible to complete.

Unless another KHL team was to step out and make a possible offer, Kovalchuk is now left with having to negotiate with NHL teams which means having to make salary demands a bit more NHL-friendly if he’d like to play here. The cynical side of me wants to say that there’s no coincidence in Nabokov’s announcement and the news that Ilya Kovalchuk has re-engaged discussion with the Los Angeles Kings in contract talks.

UPDATE: Yahoo’s Dmitry Chesnokov clears up the KHL salary discussion via
Twitter
.

There is no salary
cap in the KHL for players signed (or poached) from the NHL. For those
who were asking.

In other words, the KHL has carte blanche from KHL President Andrei Medvedev to sign any players from the NHL they can potentially bring on. Of course, then it’s up to those teams to be able to afford the players which is another thing entirely in some cases.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”