While his career decisions didn’t create an Ilya Kovalchuk-type stir, it’s not crazy to say that Evgeni Nabokov might have been the biggest unrestricted free agent of the summer. Sure, he’s had his fair share of struggles when the spotlight intensifies – whether that’s a fault of the Russian Olympic team’s spotty defense or the San Jose Sharks’ core players is another discussion for another day – but Nabokov was a rock in net for the Sharks for 10 years. It’s actually a bit surprising that more wasn’t made of the six year, $24 million deal he signed to play in the KHL.
Perhaps the reaction was muted by the sparse amount of interviews and press provided by Nabokov and the Sharks, though. The Russian goalie spoke at a press conference with fellow defector defenseman Denis Grebeshkov today and Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov captured the scene. Grebeshkov and Nabokov both made statements that denied the notion that going back to Russian meant taking a step back but Nabby’s statements might qualify as another slight on the Edmonton Oilers.
The “step back” question triggered the following conversation between Nabokov and a reporter:
Nabokov: “It’s very interesting, why does everyone always think that when you come back it’s a step back?”
Reporter: I mean that the level of competition is a little different.
Nabokov: “Let me ask you, would you want to play for the Edmonton Oilers, for example?” [laughter] “Let me tell you that when you have a choice and you have something to choose from, you always want to play for a good team, compete for medals and such. I will speak for myself, but the situation was such that I had no choice of a good team to play for and to play at the high level. To me it was very important to play for a good team, to try to win.”
Ouch. Poor, cold Edmonton … must they always be the Exhibit A whenever a hockey player discusses Where Not to Play?
The press conference also featured an announcement that another NHL player (former Atlanta Thrashers forward Maxim Afinogenov) would join Nabokov and Grebeshkov on a deep-pocketed SKA St. Petersburg team that also employs occasional punchline Alexei Yashin. If there is a single KHL team for NHL fans to watch, SKA seems to be that club.
Chicago Blackhawks fans, start your engines!
Yes, according to MotorSportsTalk, the Blackhawks have become the main sponsor of CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 car, a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, for the upcoming IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event at Road America next month.
That’s a sweet ride.
The partnership will officially launch at the United Center on Wednesday, August 3, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m in advance of Saturday’s race. Fans will have the opportunity to get up close to the car, meet the drivers and Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard, and have their picture taken.
The race takes place Aug. 6 at Road America in Wisconsin.
Since being selected by the Coyotes at 13th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brandon Gormley has had a difficult time breaking into the league on a full-time basis.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old Gormley joined his third NHL team, signing with the New Jersey Devils on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, the club announced.
Despite his draft status, Gormley has yet to play a full season in the big league, although this deal could give him an opportunity to end that. For the Devils, the deal adds more depth to the blue line in the organization and for a friendly price.
Last season, Gormley split time between the Colorado Avalanche and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage. Despite some high expectations about where he could fit on the Avs’ blue line, he was eventually put on waivers in January.
He ended the season with one assist in 26 games with the Avalanche, and hit the open market after Colorado didn’t give him a qualifying offer.
After ongoing contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba, the two sides have come to a deal.
The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Dumba to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.1 million.
A breakdown of the new deal:
— In 2016-17: $2.35 million.
— In 2017-18: $2.75 million.
Selected seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, Dumba had his most productive campaign this past season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 81 games.
Known for his offensive skills — he had 20 goals and 57 points with Red Deer in the WHL in his draft year — Dumba also brings a coveted right-shot to the Wild blue line, which features four players with contracts of four or more years of term remaining.
As per General Fanager, the Wild still have $2.168 million in projected cap space, but they have secured all their remaining restricted free agents.
The New York Rangers announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Hrivik to a new contract. The term and financial details of the deal were not released.
Hrivik signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and ended up playing five games for the Rangers. He had one assist and a plus-3 rating during his time in the NHL.
The young forward was an important part of New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Hrivik finished his AHL campaign with 12 goals and 29 assists. He tied for the team lead in assists and finished third in points.
If you go by Hrivik’s tweet, it appears as though he signed a one-year contract:
Now that Hrivik is re-signed, the Rangers have no more free agents of any kind, per General Fanager.