After a tumultuous start to his New York Islanders career Nabokov showed up to training camp this year and have proved that he is still capable of being a strong NHL goaltender.
Couple that with the emergence last season of Al Montoya and the forever under contract Rick DiPietro and the Islanders have three goaltenders that could be the team’s starter.
If the Islanders had their way they would trade away DiPietro and his albatross of a contract that pays him 4.5M until 2021, but based on an inability to stay healthy along with poor performance when he is and it makes DiPietro impossible to move.
So the decision now comes down to trading Montoya or Nabokov. Both players are UFA’s at year’s end and will be look for considerable raises as Montoya makes $601,000 a year and Nabokov earns $570,000.
The real question for the Islanders is who do they have a better chance at resigning, and that answer seems clear based on Nabokov’s reluctance to even attend camp with the Islanders this year after refusing to report to the team last year. Montoya on the other hand is younger and more likely to accept a contract offer from the Islanders.
So why trade away Nabokov when DiPietro can’t be counted on to stay healthy. The main reason would be because the Islanders, though they may compete for a playoff spot this year, are probably better off trading away veterans for players that can help them in the future.
Because of this I suggest trading Nabokov away to the highest bidder, and IMHO, I believe that the Tampa Bay Lightning would be a perfect trading partner.
The Lightning and Islanders have experience working out trades for goaltenders, as last year the Islanders sent Dwayne Roloson to the Bolts and that deal worked out well last year for both teams. However, Roloson has played poorly this year and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman may be eager to improve his netminding situation.
Enter Evgeni Nabokov and the New York Islanders. The asking price can’t be much higher than a second round pick, but will more than likely be a third rounder. With Nabokov’s low cap hit the Lightning will have no problem fitting him on their roster, yet Evgeni does have a no movement clause in his contract (although I highly doubt Nabokov would block a trade to Tampa).
Other teams that could be interested in Nabokov are the Red Wings, (how originally attempted to bring him back to the NHL last year before the Islanders blocked them) Columbus, New Jersey, Phoenix and St. Louis.
In the end, I think that moving Nabokov is the best course of action for Garth Snow and the Islanders to take, and I ultimately believe they will move him this season, the only question is which team will be the highest bidder.
Next up.....Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks
As always all salary cap info courtesy of CapGeek.com