On Monday, San Jose took the first step in honoring the winningest goalie in franchise history.
The Sharks acquired Evgeni Nabokov from Tampa Bay for future considerations, the club announced. Nabokov, 39, had been waived by the Bolts a week ago and passed through waivers unclaimed, with speculation mounting he’d soon announce his retirement — with today’s transaction, the veteran netminder will get to call it a career in the city he called home for 10 years.
San Jose’s ninth-round pick at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Nabokov made his debut during the 1999-2000 campaign and burst onto the scene a year later, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
Nabokov would be a consistent presence in the Bay Area throughout the 2000s, emerging as one of the NHL’s top backstoppers. His best season came in 2007-08, when he led the league with 46 wins and finished as the Vezina runner-up to Martin Brodeur, and seventh in Hart Trophy voting for MVP.
He was also in goal for two of San Jose’s deepest playoff runs, helping the team advance to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 and 2010.
Nabokov left San Jose following that second WC Final as the club’s all-time leader in games played by a goalie (430) and wins (293). Following his time with the Sharks, he spent three years with the Isles — backstopping the club to its first playoff appearance in six years in ’13 — before a brief stint in Tampa Bay.
The Sharks have announced a press conference on Wednesday, where it’s expected Nabokov will formally announce his retirement. Chances are this save will feature prominently in any sort of video montage: