PHT readers and many in the hockey world – really, most people basing their opinions on common sense – think that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Evgeni Nabokov would be close to an ideal match.
Yet even the most vocal anti-Nabokov pundits would probably begrudgingly admit that more than one team would enjoy adding him to their fold if the price was right. In fact, the price being right is a huge factor in this process.
That’s because it might not be quite as simple as the Lightning exploiting Nabby’s slightly desperate situation to sign him to a cheap, low-risk deal. The reasoning is pretty simple: for the Lightning to sign Nabokov, he’ll need to go through waivers. In other words, this is a possible scenario:
- One of the lower-ranked NHL teams sees the deal the Lightning (or some other team) made with Nabokov.
- Said lower-ranked team (maybe the goalie-challenged New York Islanders?) says “Hey, we can afford that deal for 1-3 years.”
- That team claims Nabokov on waivers, making the Russian goalie and Steve Yzerman sad pandas.
Here is what Pierre LeBrun wrote about Yzerman’s dilemma.
Here’s the dilemma if you’re Tampa GM Steve Yzerman: you don’t have a lot of money to spend, so if you sign Nabokov to a cheap contract, you risk losing him to another team on waivers that sees him as a good backup at that price. That’s the risk for any team that signs him. It’s possible some teams haven’t even bothered calling Nabokov’s agent, Don Meehan, about their interest because they’re lying in the weeds waiting to snap him up on waivers.
I also think Tampa is hesitant right now because its two goalies, Dan Ellis and Mike Smith, are popular teammates. You don’t want to rock the room. On the flip side, the Bolts are dead last in the league in goals against, and Nabokov is an upgrade. I think Yzerman is hoping the decision is made for him in the short term by Ellis and Smith playing better. But he may be eventually forced into looking hard at Nabokov if things don’t change.