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.

Stanley Cup Final odds: Penguins open as favorites over Predators

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The 2017 Stanley Cup Final is set with the Pittsburgh Penguins, continuing their quest to repeat as champions, facing the Nashville Predators.

Both teams come in missing some key players (Kris Letang, Pittsburgh; Ryan Johansen, Nashville) but both still have plenty of star player with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and the rest of Nashville’s defense headlining the series.

According to the folks at Bovada, the Penguins open the series as favorites to win it over the Predators.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals Series Price
Nashville Predators +135 (27/20)
Pittsburgh Penguins -155 (20/31)

The series begins on Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Related

2017 Stanley Cup Final Schedule: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators

Canucks sign free agent defenseman Philip Holm to one-year deal

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The Vancouver Canucks announced on Friday that they have signed free agent defenseman Philip Holm to a one-year, entry-level contract.

Before signing with the Canucks Holm had been rumored to be on the verge of joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that obviously did not come together.

“Philip is a mobile, two-way defenseman who adds depth to our blue line,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning in a statement released by the team. “He made strides in his development last season with Vaxjo and played a strong series with Sweden at the World Championships We’re pleased to welcome him to the Canucks organization.”

The 25-year-old Holm has spent the past seven seasons playing professionally in Sweden for Vaxjo HC and Djurgardens IF.

He is regarded as a smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman and had a pretty strong season for Vaxjo this past year, scoring four goals and adding 17 assists in 52 games. He was the top-scoring defenseman on the team.

He also had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. Sweden won the Gold Medal at the tournament by defeating Canada in the championship game.

The Canucks already have six defensemen under contract for 2017-18 (and they do not seem to be in a hurry to trade any of them) but it was a unit that clearly needs an upgrade, so Holm should be an opportunity to make an impact next season.

Sabres fire AHL coach Dan Lambert

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The Buffalo Sabres continued to overhaul their organization under new general manager Jason Botterill on Friday when they announced that Dan Lambert, the coach of the Rochester Americans, their AHL affiliate, has been relieved of his duties.

“I would like to thank Dan for his hard work and contributions to our organization during the last two seasons and I wish him the best in the future,” said Botterill in a statement released by the team.

“I felt this was the right move for both the Sabres and Amerks and we will begin the process of searching for a new head coach immediately.”

The 2016-17 season was Lambert’s only season as the head coach. The team ended up finishing with a 32-41-3 mark.

When he was hired by the Sabres Botterill talked about wanting to improve the team in Rochester and this appears to be the first step in that process. The entire Sabres organization took a pretty significant step backwards this season with the NHL team finishing with a worse record than it did a year ago. That resulted in general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma all being replaced.

The Sabres have yet to hire a replacement for Bylsma.

Now both of the top teams in the organization are in need of a new head coach.

Report: KHL team in talks with Capitals’ Orlov

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After losing in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs again and entering an offseason where they have several free agents, it is expected that the Washington Capitals roster is going to be look very, very different next season.

One of those upcoming free agents already seems to be drawing some interest, and not from an NHL team.

According to a report from Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko, the KHL’s CSKA Moscow is in talks with defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Orlov, who turns 26 in July, is slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason. He has played in every game for the Capitals the past two seasons and has emerged as a solid defenseman on the team’s blue line. He has posted pretty dominant possession numbers the past two seasons and has tallied 29 and 33 points during that stretch. He played nearly 20 minutes per game for the Capitals this season and should be in line for a pretty significant pay raise.

Along with the Orlov news, the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan mentioned on Twitter that another KHL team may also be in talks with restricted free agent Evgeny Kuznetsov, though she downplayed the possibility of him leaving. Given that Kuznetsov is one of the top offensive players in the league that would certainly be a shocking move, but it still seems like a long-shot to think that he would leave the NHL.