Evgeni Nabokov

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.

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)