Evgeni Nabokov represents Team Russia, discusses next season

Sure, the allure of being close to home couldn’t hurt, but Evgeni Nabokov decided to go to the KHL to get the kind of contract offer he couldn’t receive in the NHL. Ultimately, that didn’t work out, but he was lucky enough to get a chance to go back to the world’s greatest hockey league. He got even luckier when the Detroit Red Wings showed interest in signing him.

Unfortunately, his luck slowed down with the waivers process, as New York Islanders GM Garth Snow scooped him up. Nabokov wanted to have his return his way, so he opted not to play with the Islanders.

The biggest downside to Nabby’s decision not to play is that the Islanders still hold his rights, meaning that they can decide whether or not he’s allowed to play in the NHL next season. Actually, if the KHL and NHL do indeed play nice going forward, he won’t be able to play overseas without the Isles’ consent, either.

Who knows if the Islanders will let bygones be bygones when it comes to the KHL (somewhat likely) or NHL (less likely), but it seems like they are looking the other way as Nabokov gets some reps with Team Russia. Dmitry Chesnokov caught up with Nabokov for a brief Puck Daddy story that touched on how he feels about his future.

The rules of international hockey state that a player participating in international events should furnish an insurance policy to cover his existing club contract. For example, in 2008 the Russian Hockey Federation paid a reported premium of $700 thousand for a two week tournament to insure Alex Ovechkin’s(notes) $124 million contract.

It is unclear whether this was done in Nabokov’s case. And does Nabokov even have a permission to play for the National Team while his NHL club is still playing in the regular season?

“The Islanders are aware of everything. I told them that I was going to play for the national team. No one stood on my way. And the [Russian Hockey Federation] will take care of all the formalities,” Nabokov told Lysenkov today. “I didn’t personally call [the Islanders].”

Nabokov added: “I don’t want to elaborate on this topic at this time. The process with the Islanders is ongoing. My words may be misunderstood, people will reach conclusions…”

Forgive me if I’m reaching incorrect conclusions about Snow, but it makes sense for the Islanders to let him go on this one. Nabokov might give some indication that he can still play at an elite level – a season off can be a problem for the low margin of error goalie position – while not hurting the Islanders by playing for another NHL team.

That’s the biggest problem with the Isles just giving Nabokov a free pass next year. If they let him go to another team, he could win games against New York while they gain nothing but embarrassment and/or frustration in the process (this would ring especially true in the East).

Overall, the waiver wire process makes this all a bit complicated. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Islanders let him play in another league, decide to be amazingly charitable by letting him join another NHL team or Nabokov has a change of heart and plays for the Islanders. There might also be some other possibilities we haven’t even considered.

It’s an interesting dilemma that is far from settled at this point. Right now, it’s mostly speculation – even, admittedly, on Nabokov’s end – but we’ll update you the next time something interesting trickles through.

Devils sign d-man Michael Kapla

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The New Jersey Devils have signed UMass-Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla to a two-year, entry-level contract.

Kapla, 22, had three goals and 27 assists in 41 games this season. He’ll report to the Devils and likely burn the first year of his ELC by making his NHL debut sometime very soon.

The Devils host the Winning Jets tonight. They’re in Brooklyn Friday to play the Islanders.

Kapla spent four years in college. Per the Devils’ press release, he “most recently captained the River Hawks to the 2017 Hockey East Championship. He also received Hockey East All-Tournament Team honors and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team.”

 

Report: Penn State sophomore Pedrie leaves school, signs with Rangers

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For the second straight day, the Rangers have landed an undrafted college free agent.

Vince Pedrie, a sophomore blueliner that just wrapped his sophomore campaign at Penn State, has reportedly agreed to terms with the Rangers on an entry-level deal, per the Collegian.

Citing a post from Pedrie’s Facebook account confirming the move, the Collegian reports the 23-year-old is the youngest Nittany Lion in program history to leave the team for the professional ranks.

It comes after Pedrie emerged as a “dominant offensive force” for the club last season, racking up 30 points in 39 games while helping Penn State qualify for its first NCAA championship appearance.

As mentioned above, this is the second intriguing prospect to join the Blueshirts in as many days. On Monday, University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri agreed to join the team after an impressive four-year career with the Gophers.

Hjalmarsson says ‘Hawks are ‘too comfortable’ after rough trip through Florida

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When most people take trips to Florida, it’s to get away from the stress and struggle of everyday life. But it’s safe to say that this edition of the Chicago Blackhawks won’t want to remember their visit to the Sunshine State.

The ‘Hawks dropped an embarrassing 7-0 decision to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night before blowing a 4-1 lead in last night’s game against the Bolts (they eventually lost 5-4 in OT).

They still have a comfortable lead atop the Central Division (eight points up on the struggling Wild), but they aren’t satisfied with their play.

“It’s getting close to the end here and we’re getting a little bit too comfortable maybe,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “As soon as you do that, you’re going to lose games … At the same time I’m glad that we were playing like this before the playoffs so we can make some adjustments.

“Eighty-two games is a long season. It’s a mental grind more than anything. As soon as you’re not there 100 percent, it’s going to show in the scoring.”

As Hjalmarsson said, six games is still enough time to figure things out for Chicago. They just won’t have the luxury of facing easy opponents when they do try to sort out their struggles.

They’ll play the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday before returning home to play Columbus and Boston. They’ll then head back on the road to close out the season in Denver, Anaheim and Los Angeles.

PHT Morning Skate: This season’s top five breakout performers

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Jake Allen wore a special U.S. Navy tribute mask during last night’s game against the Coyotes. It’s really a gorgeous mask. “The blue and yellow complements our colors well, and it’s a great tribute to the Blue Angel pilots who have the honor of flying and performing across the country.” (NHL.com/Blues)

–With every NHL season, there are surprises and disappointments. Rather than focus on the negatives, The Hockey News breaks down the top five breakout seasons in 2016-17. At the top of the list is Panthers forward Jonathan Marchesault, who is shockingly closing in on a 30-goal season. Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson and Boston’s David Pastrnak have also made names for themselves. (The Hockey News)

–It’s no secret that NHLers are forced to travel a lot, but each team makes the most of their road trips in different ways. For example, Kevin Shattenkirk and the Capitals enjoy fine dining when they’re away from home.  “It’s so easy to go to the top names or the ones that you hear of all the time, but when you go to a lot of these cities, the food scenes everywhere now are really starting to improve. A lot of my friends naturally are foodies. They bring me to some of their places. Even just a simple Google, most of the times, the first two things that come up are Yelp or TripAdvisor, and I usually go a couple down and look at a local newspaper, if they have the best spots to eat in 2017. I like to focus on those.” (Washington Post)

–The Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves down 4-1 in lasts night’s game against Chicago, but they were able to battle back and win in a thrilling overtime period. You can check out the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–Tonight will mark the first time that Jordie and Jamie Benn play against each other since the trade that saw the older Benn head to Montreal. The Canadiens took the opportunity to ask their Benn some questions about what it was like growing up with his brother. Here’s a sample question: “Of the two of you, which one is Peyton and who is Eli?” (NHL.com/Canadiens)

–This year’s rookie class with Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, Mitch Marner and Matt Murray is one of the best in recent memory, but which other freshmen classes stand out? BarDown takes a look at the top five rookie classes since 2000. (BarDown)

–Capitals forward Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky had some fun during picture day. The two players showed up to the rink with some pretty poofy hair. There’s no point in me trying to explain it when you can see the pictures for yourself. (NHL.com)