Islanders are expected to let Nabokov walk

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When the New York Islanders began their relationship with goalie Evgeni Nabokov, he tried his best not to play for the team. Now it sounds like the shoe is on the other foot.

New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that the 37-year-old will probably be allowed to hit the free agent market on July 5, even though the Russian netminder now seems to embrace Long Island.

“We couldn’t find the middle ground right now but I never close the door on anything,” Nabokov said. “That’s where we’re at. I’m still hopeful something will get done.”

Nabokov was a workhorse for the Islanders in 2013, playing in 41 regular season games and six postseason contests. His numbers were lousy in the playoffs (4.44 GAA, .842 save percentage), but he provided solid reliability during the season (2.50 GAA, .910 save percentage).

He could end up being one of the more interesting free agent cases to follow, as his name recognition might help him land a starting gig while his age and other factors may force him to settle for a backup job – among other possibilities.