Evgeni Nabokov Dropped From KHL Team. Will Any NHL Teams Take a Chance On Him?

Kyle W. BrownContributor IIDecember 13, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 23:  Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks looks on while taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The former San Jose Sharks goaltender has been released from his KHL club, SKA St. Petersburg, with the club citing "family circumstances."

However, many are speculating that those family circumstances are just a nice, PR-friendly way of saying that their dreams of him returning to true form have been shattered.

After all, in Russia he was making a whopping $6 million, and has picked up an 8-8-5 record, a save percentage of just .888 and a goals against average over three.

But now that Nabokov is unemployed again, it is possible that the 35-year-old could return to the NHL.

Will any teams be looking at the Russian netminder who over his NHL career has almost 300 wins, a 2.39 GAA and a save percentage of .912? I'd say there are a few teams who wouldn't mind grabbing him.

The first team that comes to mind are the Blackhawks, who lost Antti Niemi to (of all teams) the Sharks this offseason. Starting goalie Marty Turco has been inconsistent over his career with Dallas, and has already been shaky at times this season. Nabokov could come in as a backup and take over should Turco fall into any bad spells like he has in the past.

Another team that has to be considered is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite already having two goalies in Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, neither one has any real experience as a starter, nor any real playoff experience. If the Lightning are to be a serious contender, a veteran goalie might be just what they need.

What about Ottawa? With Pascal Leclaire injured again, the Sens are down to just one goalie, who only has one real season under his belt. Depending on the length of Leclaire's injury, if I'm the Sens I might consider making an offer to Nabby to serve as a backup for the rest of the year, in case anything should happen to Elliott.

However, if things don't turn around for the team they may want to look elsewhere for a younger goalie to develop in Binghamton instead of bringing in an old guy like Nabokov.

Sticking in Canada, the Calgary Flames could be another destination for Nabokov. With an inexperienced backup, Nabokov could team up with Kiprusoff, who he played with years ago, and act as a backup for the struggling Flames team.

Lastly, I could see the Thrashers expressing an interest in him. Though they have Mason and Pavelec, there must still be some concern over Pavelec's health from when he fainted earlier this season. Nabokov could be a short-term solution while the team evaluates whether Pavelec will be able to be a full-time NHL goalie again this year.

No matter where Nabokov goes, if anywhere, it seems pretty obvious that wherever he ends up it will be in a backup role, and he definitely won't be making the same amount of money that he has in the past or he did in Russia.

For now, though, we'll just have to speculate while we wait and see if anyone approaches the goalie for his services.


For the latest in sports news, follow @MWSsports