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.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: