With Detroit having to put Evgeni Nabokov on waivers at noon today in order to sign him to the one-year pro-rated $575,000 contract they agreed to last night, the talk today and up until noon tomorrow will be over who, if anyone, will claim Nabokov.
Some folks have been kicking around theories about whether Detroit could work out a trade with a team that claims him (they can’t) or if there’s got a team that GM Ken Holland might count on to do him a solid and claim Nabokov only to put him on waivers once again making Detroit first in line to grab him and acquire him for good.
One such team being theorized about that were the New Jersey Devils. After all, if you’re going to mess with the system who better to count on than “Loophole” Lou Lamoriello? Turns out that Lamoriello will not be taking part in these roster games and will keep the Devils out of the mix by not making a claim for the 36 year-old Russian goalie.
With the Devils out of the running, one of the next teams in line for Nabokov stands out with a glaring goaltending issue in the New York Islanders. The Isles have an often-injured Rick DiPietro as well as two rookie goalies in Nate Lawson and Kevin Poulin. If the Isles claimed Nabokov they could solve their problems quickly.
Of course, if Nabokov doesn’t like who claims him he can simply refuse to report but then he’d have to sit out for the remainder of the season. That’d be a drastic choice for him to make, especially considering he came back to North America for his family and wanted to play in the NHL. You’d hope that teams would do their due diligence and find out if that would be a possibility ahead of time but stranger things have happened.
The one thing we’ve learned so far from all the interest in this story is that Nabokov is a goalie whose name comes with some reputation to it and there is still interest in him despite closing out the playoffs last season on a down note against Chicago and the questionable numbers he put up in the KHL this year. How the rumors play out over the next day will make for some fun theory creating for the fans and media alike.
We suspect that Nabokov will be claimed by someone, be it a team that needs help or is just looking to block him from helping out Detroit. The low cost of the contract makes it feasible for most teams to take a flier on him if they want to. Nabokov did have some interest this summer in free agency but his asking price was too high for the teams that had goaltending needs. Those teams, like Chicago and Philadelphia, have solved their problems from within so they’d likely be out of the running. As the season’s rolled along other team’s needs have changed, but whether they’ve changed enough to make a claim on Nabokov remains to be seen tomorrow at noon.