It's a weird thought...someone other than Evgeni Nabokov regularly between the pipes for the San Jose Sharks.
Nabokov’s career in the NHL has spanned 11 seasons and three different decades, with all of them in teal. He is the leader in almost every all-time Sharks goaltending stat imaginable and thinking about a season without the flexible Russian seems quite eerie.
Nabokov has been the rock for this Sharks organization over the past decade, largely helping them to become true Stanley Cup contenders. Without his solid and consistent net play during the regular season, the Sharks probably would not have earned the several banners hanging from the rafters.
But the one banner missing from that rafter is undeniably the most important.
With Nabokov’s contract reaching its conclusion at the end of this season, many have to wonder whether or not the Sharks will re-sign him if he does not win that ultimate prize.
The former Calder Trophy winner never fails to appear tentative when it comes to those early playoff matchups, often times forcing his team to play with their backs against the wall. But this is a story that Bay Area hockey fans know all too well.
Most recently, Nabokov took a back alley beating at the hands of the Canadian team in quarterfinal round of the 2010 Winter Olympics. This pounding has to make you wonder just how effective “Nabby” will be this season when the games matter the most.
But, with the spectacular numbers that Nabokov has been able to muster during the regular season, an enormous free agency pay day would mean an increase to his current $6M per year salary.
Do the Sharks really want to spend a huge fraction of the team’s salary on a player who has proven time after time that he cannot reach that next step?
Unfortunately, the list of goalie free agents for this offseason is not exactly plentiful and Doug Wilson will have to decide on whether they want to lock down an All-Star goaltender with hurdle issues for the rest of his career or test the waters of young unproven talent and aging stars looking for a second chance.
If Wilson decides to go with the latter, here is a list of goaltenders currently expected to hit Free Agency at season’s end that I would be interested in seeing don the teal...at least for one season