Evgeni Nabokov: New Contract or San Jose Shark Meat?

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IMay 28, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 18: Adam Burish #37 and Ben Eager #55 of the Chicago Blackhawks are knocked down by Douglas Murray #3 and Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks as goaltender Evgeni Nabokov #20 is in goal in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 18, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Evgeni Nabokov is probably one of the NHL's greatest enigmas. 

He's an All-Star goaltender who stands tall for his team in the regular season, but when the games really count, he seems to either disappear or get outplayed by the other net-minder.

The past few years the Sharks have compiled many wins and have been atop the standings.

For some reason when playoff time comes, though, not only does Nabokov disappear, but to some extent their franchise center Joe Thornton also vanishes.

Some Russian fans will also remember Nabokov's poor showing in the quarterfinal match-up against Canada at the Olympics, where he looked shell-shocked and out of his league.

The 34-year-old netminder's quickness, lateral mobility, glove hand, and five-hole have all gone downhill in recent years, and it appears they are not coming back anytime soon.

Nabokov, who is an unrestricted free agent beginning July 1, will probably be looking for a new home come that date.

I know Sharks fans and management are probably wanting to go in another direction with their goal-tending, opting to either go with a cheaper veteran goalie or with youngsters Thomas Greiss and Tyson Sexsmith.

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Whatever direction they go, I highly doubt you will see Evgeni Nabokov in a Sharks jersey ever again.

Is he worth six-plus million dollars a season this late into his career?

Will he ever show up in the playoffs?

If not the Sharks, does he end up in the KHL?

Those questions will remain unanswered for about a month, but this can be written in stone now: Nabokov is done as a Shark.

Who will the Sharks go after to fix their goalie situation? My pick for that is easy: Marty Turco.

Turco is roughly the same age as Nabokov, but his puck-handling skill and ability to control rebounds will be key to the Sharks. He is also an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but he should have a smaller price tag than others. Other possible goalie targets include Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price, Ray Emery, Chris Mason, and Dan Ellis.

Where does Nabokov end up? My best guess is that Washington somehow gets him in the off-season.

With the many goal-tending questions aside, the Capitals organization would really benefit from getting Nabby and keeping the 21-year-old Semyon Varlamov on ice for a few more years until he's good and ready.

Nabby fits here because the Caps lead the league in goal scoring, and, with the departure of Jose Theodore, they should have some leftover cash to get him.

Other possible destinations include Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis. Just not San Jose.