(Note: this report came before Brent Johnson bruised Rick DiPietro’s ego – and probably his face – with a one-punch knockout. Initial reports indicate that Ricky D won’t face much of an injury, aside from the damage to his pride, so this news should remain reliable.)
Many people laughed when the New York Islanders claimed Evgeni Nabokov off of waivers, but if you ask me, they made an interesting move in an attempt to improve their team (and give their young players reason to believe that they’re doing their best to get better). The fact that Nabokov declined the invitation ended up being a punchline in the eyes of numerous hockey people, even if Nabby might eventually regret turning down the opportunity to prove that he can play in the NHL again.
The bottom line is that the Islanders would likely benefit from adding another NHL-caliber goalie, both for now and possibly for the future. Such a need could be addressed by making a claim on big Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mike Smith, who was placed on waivers today.
It seems like a logical move, as the sizable netminder is in the last year of a two-year deal with a $2.2 million salary cap hit and $2.4 million salary in 2010-11. They could allow Smith to audition for a future contract, something that’s not a guarantee in a very competitive goalie market. (Especially considering the fact that Smith didn’t exactly set the world on fire after getting a legit shot at a No. 1 job in Tampa.)
Regardless of how logical the move may or may not be, Katie Strang reports that the team has “no interest” in claiming Smith. In other words, the Islanders are likely to stick with hard-luck DiPietro and prospect-in-the-making Kevin Poulin for the time being.
We’ll let you know if anyone else decides to give him what might be one of his last shots in the league.