Last season the Detroit Red Wings made an attempt to bring in a high-quality, established veteran netminder in Evgeni Nabokov. The New York Islanders proceeded to crash the party by claiming the former 40-game winner off of re-entry waivers.
The Islanders now have a crowded crease, and are likely to carry three goalies to start the regular season. With Nabokov reporting for duty this time around, New York has a plethora of NHL-caliber netminders.
It's an enviable position to some degree, but GM Garth Snow is more than likely to make a few phone calls with regard to moving one of his masked men. It's speculation on my part, but the goalie most likely to get shipped is Nabokov.
If Nabovkov is on the trading block, the Red Wings are likely one of the first teams that Snow would phone given Detroit's previous interest in Nabokov.
But would the move make sense for Ken Holland and his team?
At first glance, it's easy to say that by acquiring Nabokov the Red Wings would be reducing the clutter in New York while adding to their own. But the Islanders and Wings aren't in quite the same situation. While New York is a young, rebuilding team, Detroit is a squad that is looking to break through to the Western Conference Finals again.
Adding Nabokov as an insurance policy means that Detroit is no longer one Jimmy Howard injury away from a disastrous season. Ty Conklin signed on again during the offseason, sure. But making the choice between Conklin or Nabokov as a backup is an easy one.
The Wings have the cap space to make it work. Adding Nabokov's contract would tack on a hardly noticeable hit.
The pros for Detroit simply outweigh the cons.
Right now if Howard was to injure himself while operating his George Foreman grill, the rest of the season would weigh on Conklin's shoulders. While he's a serviceable backup—one of the better backups in the league, even—I don't think he's a starting netminder.
Journeymen tend to be journeymen for a reason.
Nabokov would give the Wings a much better option to go to should the injury bug decide to take a bite out of Howard for any amount of time. And with the way preseason has already gone for Detroit, it isn't a stretch.
Adding Nabokov also insulates Detroit against heavy losses should Howard's game suddenly go south. His numbers weren't shimmery-shiny last season, and while some blame must be placed on the defense, Howard simply must be better.
Snow could be looking for a bit of a ransom for Nabokov, however, after clearly getting taken in the Dwayne Roloson deal. If the asking price is a young core piece or a high draft pick, I don't think the conversation would need to go any further.
But if the Wings could move a player that makes sense and add depth to their net, I don't see what the harm could be.
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