Evgeni Nabokov won’t be providing any depth at goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings this season. The Wings signed him to a one-year contract on Thursday, but there was always the chance that he’d never put on a Detroit uniform since another team could claim him on waivers.
Saturday morning, the New York Islanders became that team.
"We tried something, and he’s been claimed by another team," general manager Ken Holland said. "We move on. It’s the nature of the rules and the league."
As indicated by him agreeing to a contract with the Red Wings, Nabokov’s preference was to play for first-place Detroit, rather than an Islanders team with the third-fewest points in the NHL. But as Holland says, those are the rules.
Is there a chance that the Islanders could end up trading Nabokov to the Wings? As the Freep’s Helene St. James reports, that would be unlikely, as the Islanders would have to put Nabokov back on waivers, allowing another team to claim him.
It isn’t known if any other claims were put in for Nabokov this time around, but there were rumors of several teams being interested.
The Wings called up Jordan Pearce from Grand Rapids for Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks in case Nabokov had gotten through waivers. Had Nabokov gone to the Wings, and Joey McDonald was sent down to clear a spot on the roster, McDonald would’ve had to clear waivers. That wasn’t a concern with Pearce, as he’s only in his second year.
UPDATE: It appears the Islanders won’t be getting Nabokov, either. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reports on Twitter that Nabokov will not report to the team. The Isles can either suspend Nabokov or put him back on waivers. (Or hope he changes his mind.)