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NHL Trade Speculation: 5 Possible Destinations for Evgeni Nabokov

Mark PareCorrespondent IIFebruary 17, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 5 Possible Destinations for Evgeni Nabokov

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    Evgeni Nabokov has been on the trade watch since he came back to the NHL after being reluctant in his wanting to be a New York Islander.

    His cheap salary of $570,000 is gold to many teams looking for a competent veteran presence in the crease come playoff time, and of course, some teams wouldn't mind the insurance policy, in case their No. 1 goes down to injury.

    The trade deadline is fast approaching and for Nabokov, this is the final year of his contract, which means he hits the open market and despite being only eight points out of the playoffs, the consensus on Long Island is that they are in the midst of a rebuild.

    Getting rid of Nabokov for an immediate asset or a prospect for the future could be in the best interest of the Islander organization.

    There are also out there that do have hopes of the playoffs but even then, the goaltending situation has been a virus for this team since Rick DiPietro signed that now infamous 15-year contract in 2006.

    The team needs to be better than they are now.  They have a goals for/against ratio of (-33), good for 29th place in the NHL (Columbus has -53) and they need more scoring.

    Either way, if Nabokov does get traded, here are five possible destinations.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    One team needing a boost would be the Chicago Blackhawks.  Corey Crawford isn't looking like the kid who registered a 2.30 GAA last season and the Hawks have surrendered the second most goals in the Western Conference with 176.

    The backup plan at this point is Ray Emery, who has a 2.82 GAA through 23 games this year.

    The offense of the Hawks is still in great shape and they know how to score goals.  They do rank third in the West in terms of goals for (Detroit is first, Vancouver is second) but without solid goaltending, they won't last long come playoff time.

    Nabokov knows the trials and tribulations of the playoffs and yes, the Hawks won the Cup in 2010 when Antti Niemi was their starter, but teams are smarter than they were a couple years ago and to do a deep run in the playoffs, you need a good plan in net and an even better backup plan.

Minnesota Wild

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    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    The Wild were the talk of the NHL in 2011, when they were tops in the standings.  Now, they sit in 12th spot.

    One can blame the players for not scoring enough and sure, we can blame it on captain Mikko Koivu's injuries, but one thing is for certain, this team needs a boost and it starts from the net and goes up from there.

    Niklas Backstrom has been playing better lately and most say Josh Harding is a great backup but with the potential for Harding to get dealt at the deadline, it opens up a hole for a grizzled veteran to come in and play a backup role or earn a shot at starting by backstopping the Wild to a playoff spot.

Ottawa Senators

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    The Senators have been the upstart team of the year, surprising everyone with their play and they are closer and closer to claiming a playoff spot of their own, when some had them pegged for disaster.

    The play of Craig Anderson has been a blessing for the Sens and after a great time hosting All-Star weekend, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek are ready to lead the charge.

    Grabbing Nabokov might be a mistake but if Anderson were to go down, the hopes for the Sens in net are on the shoulders of Alex Auld, who has yet to prove himself a steady No. 1 goaltender.

    Plus, how can you argue Nabokov's salary?

    Yes, some are going to say, "Why spend assets of a team on the rise for a goalie who may never even see playing time while on your team?"

    That point is valid, but it's better to be safe than sorry in the playoffs, where anything can happen once you get in.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Another team, another insurance policy, but wait...

    We are talking about the Detroit Red Wings.

    Do you remember when Nabokov was coming back to the NHL, what team he was planning on signing with, only to be put on a waiver wire due to logistics and grabbed by his current team?

    Yes, that Detroit.

    Imagine if you will, someone grabbing the last copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 when it was on sale around the holiday season.  You were just looking at it and needed to go to the bank to get cash.  When you get back, another worker is selling that copy you wanted.  You know the person who grabbed it and you make note that you want to bargain with said person when he sets it down or is looking to negotiate.  Maybe it's because you're sick of Black Ops, who knows, the metaphor, as badly described as it is, is over now, get on with the rest of the article.

    In Detroit's case, they wanted Nabokov the first time as an insurance policy for Jimmy Howard.

    With Nabokov on the trading block, the Wings can get an excellent backup to their young starter and with that combination going into the playoffs, who is going to question if the Wings could make it all the way.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    What? Shocked?

    The Lightning haven't had a distinct starting goaltender since Nikolai Khabibulin in 2004 (or that time the Cup got a tan, way back when, in the pre-lockout era) and have struggled since.

    Dwayne Roloson came in last season and played great hockey, getting Tampa to within a win of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

    This year, he has struggled and when your team has surrendered the most goals in the NHL this season (194), the time for action begins now.

    Trade little to get a lot for the short term and then take the offseason, one that shouldn't be littered with RFA drama like the Stamkos situation last summer, and find that new No. 1 goaltender and hold onto him tight.

    Should Nabokov go to any of these teams? Do you think he would sign an extension with any of these teams?

    What do you think?

     

    Mark Pare is a Featured Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.


    PLEASE SHOW RESPECT IN YOUR COMMENTS, WE ARE ALL MERELY SPORTS FANS AFTER ALL.

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