When the Islanders plucked Evgeni Nabokov off of re-entry waivers from Detroit, the stir it caused amongst Wings fans hoping for a more steady backup goalie as well as with Nabokov himself was obvious. Nabokov refused to report to the Islanders and he was suspended by the team for staying away.
The downside of that move by Nabokov is that it opened up the possibility that the Islanders would just toll his contract until the start of next season. As it turns out, they’re going to do just that. (subscription required)
Isles GM Garth Snow had every right to do that since Nabokov opted to not report meaning the contract he signed with Detroit stays in tact and the Islanders now have a potential backup goalie for next season. The only problem there is that Nabokov made it more than apparent that he doesn’t want to play in Long Island.
There is reason to think he might be open to playing ball with the Islanders next year because Snow granted Nabokov permission to play for Russia in the IIHF World Championships. Since his rights are owned by the Islanders, Snow had the option to not allow Nabokov to represent his country at the annual tournament. Giving him the OK to do that might smooth things over to make Nabokov want to join the Islanders next season.
In all reality it means the lines of communication will be open so that perhaps the Isles could work out to trade Nabokov in the offseason to a team that would be open to having him at a vastly reduced rate than he might’ve gotten in free agency. At $570,000 for next season, he’s more than affordable for any team that wants a veteran goalie to (likely) be a backup.