It seems inevitable that Evgeni Nabokov will be traded sometime during the season. He wants out. The Islanders don’t need three goalies. But where he ends up and what he’s worth remains to be seen.
There are certainly teams that could use the 36-year-old with the measly $570,000 cap hit.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the most obvious such team, but you have to wonder if Nabokov would waive his no-trade clause to go to that disaster.
Depending on the prognosis for James Reimer, the Leafs could be interested.
Tampa Bay is another candidate given Dwayne Roloson’s shaky start and the fact he’s 42 years old, but would Nabokov be worth the price to upgrade Mathieu Garon?
Even the Blackhawks might be willing to add a veteran goalie as insurance if Corey Crawford and Ray Emery continue their mediocre play. However, that would be a move they make later, and by then Nabokov could be elsewhere.
What could Isles GM Garth Snow get in return? That’s where it gets really interesting. The goalie market is so whacky it’s hard to say. Over here you’ve got Tomas Vokoun making $1.5 million, over here you’ve got Semyon Varlamov getting dealt for a high first and second.
If goalies were cars, Nabokov could be worth anywhere from a Pontiac Aztec to a Maserati Quattroporte.
Snow isn’t about to put the “clearance” tag on Nabokov at this point in the season. If he doesn’t get a good deal now, the trade deadline should bring more opportunities. Maybe a starter gets injured. Maybe a team isn’t quite comfortable with its goaltending heading into the postseason. Nabokov has 80 playoff games under his belt.
Granted, it was his performances in the playoffs that spelled the end of his time in San Jose.