It's the best time of year!
This seems to have been gaining steam for a week or two now, but it appears it’s heading towards its conclusion – Evgeni Nabokov is headed home to Russia. Dmitry Chesnokov and Jason Gold both confirmed the news on Twitter that ‘Nabby’ has signed a four-year deal worth $24 million with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.
The scenario of Nabokov going to Russia seemed more and more likely as the frenzy unfolded last Thursday. Dan Ellis and Chris Mason signed in Tampa Bay and Atlanta, respectively… two of the few destinations for Nabokov. Also don’t forget, the Flyers attempted to attain his negotiating rights from San Jose at the draft, but scoffed at his asking price.
Nabokov has been one of the most successful goaltenders in the league in the last handful of seasons. He has racked up 131 wins in the last three seasons, the most in the NHL, leading to the Sharks to some previously-thought promising postseasons.
In the playoffs, though, he has buckled under pressure – round three against Chicago this spring was ‘Exhibit A’. His career 2.29 GAA in the postseason can be misleading, as he’s been rather shaky the last two years.
The question now is whether Ilya Kovalchuk will join Nabokov – who are good friends – in St. Petersburg. The delay in an official decision from the ‘Kovy’ camp has some people believing he could be on his way to Russia. While I don’t believe he’ll ultimately end up there, I wouldn’t rule it out if the Devils or Kings don’t meet his demands.
Recent scuttlebutt has Kovalchuk and Kings ‘re-engaged’ in negotiations. Quite a twist in the last few days, wouldn’t you say?
Nabokov going to the KHL shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially with the $6 million/year he received; no NHL team would have dished out that much money – not even close! Even if Kovalchuk isn’t the next to bolt for Russia, there are some other candidates that could join Nabokov (Frolov? Afinogenov?).
It’ll be interesting to see if Nabokov has caused his own domino effect that results in more Russians going to the KHL.
(Update: Chesnokov also tweets that Nikolai Zherdev may be signing with the Flyers)
Photo credit: Getty Images
at 12:15 PM
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