It’s been rumored about all day, but the Red Wings made it official late tonight signing former Sharks goalie and recent KHL exile Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year contract. The Red Wings will now wait 24 hours starting at noon tomorrow to see if Nabokov clears waivers so they can retain his services. As part of the NHL CBA, any player coming from another professional league must go through waivers before joining a team.
We’ve seen the St. Louis Blues get victimized by this process twice this season in their efforts to sign Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood as Svatos was claimed by Nashville and Wellwood by San Jose. For Detroit, Nabokov offers a better backup goaltending option than Joey MacDonald while Chris Osgood is out until March with a sports hernia injury.
The Wings are set for a starting goalie as Jimmy Howard is the man in Detroit, but with his recent injury for a bruised knee and Osgood’s absence creating depth problems in goal the Wings have a need for insurance in goal and Nabokov, despite his stats in Russia (3.02 goals against average, .888 save percentage in 22 games), offers that.
Of course, this is all for naught if Nabokov is claimed on waivers by another team and there’s a host of teams that could use an NHL-experienced goalie on the cheap. The possibility exists out there that the Wings could cut a deal with a team near the top of the waiver claim list (which the Devils are at the top of thanks to having the NHL’s worst record) to swing a trade with them if they make a claim on Nabokov, but doing such a thing is against the rules of the NHL.
There is a chance something could be worked out after the fact, but chances are if a team is claiming Nabokov, they want him for their own purposes.
While it’s questionable what Nabokov could bring to the NHL right now given what he’s done in Russia there’s no doubt he offers a better backup option than Joey MacDonald. For Detroit, they just need a more reliable backup for the time being. If they ultimately land Nabokov, they’ll get just that.
The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.
In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.
According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.
The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.
Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.
The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.
The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.
After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”
He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”
Well, help is on the way.
On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.
The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).
The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.
“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”
Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.
Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.
It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.
But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.
Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.
“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”
Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.