When it was first reported yesterday that Detroit was the likely destination for Evgeni Nabokov, I thought there wouldn’t be any way he would get picked off on waivers, especially if the Wings were to give him a $2-plus million deal.
However, GM Ken Holland is reportedly attempting to sign ‘Nabby’ to a $570,000 (pro-rated) contract. It’s almost like he’s setting everything up for one of the other 29 teams.
Nabokov will go on waivers today at Noon EST, and we will know tomorrow at the same time which team he will spend the rest of the season with. Will anyone grab him on waivers? It seems like a foregone conclusion. So let’s go through the waivers process to see who may be interested.
1. New Jersey: There’s no point in Lou Lamoriello making a claim… unless he’s going to find a loop-hole and somehow give Detroit a helping hand (read below). 2. Edmonton: Don’t see the Oilers going in this direction; they already have an aging Russian netminder! 3. NY Islanders: Rick DiPietro is ailing (go figure), while Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson man the crease. Newsday is reporting there have been discussions by the Isles in relation to Nabokov. We’ll see. 4. Ottawa: When haven’t the Sens had goaltending issues this season? Pascal Leclaire is on the shelf, so it is a possibility that GM Bryan Murray takes a flier on Nabby. 5. Toronto: Would the Leafs make a claim? I’d say unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility. 6. Calgary: Eh… I don’t see the Flames making a claim. 7. Florida: Would they claim Nabokov, trade Vokoun after the All-Star break and stay in the hunt? Maybe on EA Sports’ NHL 11. 8. Buffalo: Although Ryan Miller needs more rest, Nabby wouldn’t see much time. He wants to play. Pass. 9. Columbus: I think this will be under consideration by GM Scott Howson and company. Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon have been wildly inconsistent. 10. Los Angeles: Goaltending isn’t a worry for the Kings; plus Nabokov isn’t that spark that everyone is looking for. Don’t see a fit here. 11. St. Louis: The Blues have been bitten by waiver claims in recent weeks. I doubt they try to ‘return the favor’, though. 12. Carolina: Just fine, thanks. 13. San Jose: Antero Niittymaki was placed on IR yesterday. Will the Sharks lean on Antti Niemi? It wouldn’t shock me to see Nabby find his way back to San Jose. 14. Minnesota: Niklas Backstrom, Jose Theodore and Anton Khudobin. Pass. 15. Atlanta: Chris Mason is on IR and Ondrej Pavelec has been inconsistent. Possibly a ‘sleeper’ destination? 16. Colorado: Could be a fit for Nabby. The Avs are near the bottom of the league in goals-against, but in playoff position. I would expect this to at least be discussed by the front office. 17. Chicago: Corey Crawford has been good, but Marty Turco hasn’t. However, I don’t see the ‘Hawks going down this road. 18. Anaheim: Jonas Hiller has been rock-solid, but Curtis McElhinney isn’t a quality backup compared to other backups. Possible, not likely. 19. Montreal: It wouldn’t shock me to see the Habs take a chance, but Alex Auld has been solid in relief of Carey Price. Pass. 20. NY Rangers: Just fine, thanks. 21. Phoenix: Zero chance. 22. Nashville: Would GM David Poile stop Nabby from going to their division rival? Unlikely. 23. Boston: (Insert yawn). 24. Washington: GM George McPhee has said ALL ALONG that he’s sticking with the youngsters. Despite their recent (short-term) injuries, it’s not happening. 25. Tampa Bay: They just acquired Dwayne Roloson… so I don’t see the need to make a claim here. 26. Dallas: Just fine, thanks. 27. Pittsburgh: Zero chance. 28. Vancouver: Not happening. 29. Philadelphia: GM Paul Holmgren pauses, goes on with the rest of his day.
It is important to note that New Jersey can’t claim Nabokov, then immediately trade him to Detroit. That is not allowed (unless there is some loop-hole that only the Devils and Wings have figured out). Nabokov was given a no-movement clause by Detroit in the contract, which further complicates an already-confusing process.
One thing we know for sure: Nabokov will be playing NHL hockey very soon.
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