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New York Islanders: Why Evgeni Nabokov Should Show Up Now

CHICAGO - MAY 23:  Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks makes a save 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
Chris LeydenCorrespondent IIFebruary 6, 2011

If Evgeni Nabokov wants to return to the NHL, and I have a very strong feeling that he does, then the smartest thing for him to do right now is get on a plane and fly to Long Island.

The New York Islanders have all sorts of goalie problems, and would obviously still love to put Nabokov in the net. It has been well documented that Nabokov does not want to be there, but let me tell you why he should go join the team now.

Nabokov wants to play for a winner, and the Islanders are obviously not that in his eyes. But because he didn’t show up to Long Island, the Islanders were able to suspend him, and pretty much have all control over his moves.

How this works is that if Nabokov were to show up and play, then he would become a free agent at the end of the season and could pick and choose where he wants to go. If he stays at home and refuses to report then the Islanders hold the power, because they could “toll” his contract until next season and he would be their property for next season too.

Nabokov does not want that latter situation to occur, because then he cannot play for a winner until the 2012-2013 season, and to be blunt he is not getting any younger.

So the smart thing for Nabokov to do is to grow up and report to Long Island right now. He can get back in NHL shape and there will be no pressure on him because the Islanders have no options behind him. Fans would just be happy to have a great goaltender in net, and Nabokov could easily walk away to a team like Detroit in the off-season.

Nabokov needs to really contemplate this as a serious option, and as an Islanders fan I can only hope that he shows up.

This article originally appears on TheLonelyIslanders.com.

Follow The Lonely Islanders on Twitter @LonelyIslanders.

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