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

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.

High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win

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Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.

David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

Today’s win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

…Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.