Well, by now it's no secret that the Red Wings have signed former San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov is coming off of a disappointing year for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL and has tried since to re-enter the NHL. No team took him at first but now that the Red Wings have signed him to a contract, worth a prorated $250,000, it's expected that he'll be plucked off of waivers before he gets to Detroit's spot.
Nabokov goes on waivers at noon today and the first team that gets a crack at him is New Jersey (waivers order is the reverse order of the NHL standings). After that, there are a host of teams that pop up in the rankings that could take a chance on Nabokov to either bolster their own net, create trade bait, or do so as a proverbial middle finger to the Red Wings. Teams like Chicago, Anaheim, or even San Jose oddly enough could benefit from signing a guy like Nabokov for that incredibly cheap of a price.
Follow the jump as we go a little deeper into this potential signing for Detroit.
But pretend for a second that he does fall all the way to Detroit in waivers. This is one hell of a payoff (hypothetically) for Detroit. They get a goaltender not named Joey MacDonald as a back-up or alternate for Jimmy Howard. Nabokov seems to be one of those goalies that plays with a chip on his shoulder, could you play with a bigger one than he has right now after being shunned by the NHL and having a bad year in the KHL?
If Nabokov does make it to the Wings, I think the chances of him having a positive impact are greater than a negative one. He'll have a far better defense in Detroit than he did at SKA St. Petersburg and even in San Jose. Hopefully this will allow him to play at his highest level and be a steal for the Red Wings heading towards the postseason.
Also if he does make it through waivers to Detroit, it gives the Wings one heck of an option at the end of the year since both Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood are free agents. A lot of folks expect Osgood to retire at the end of the year with win 400 under his belt and who knows what else by season's end. It's expected that the Wings will retain Jimmy Howard and by getting a guy like Nabokov, there's a very talented counterpart as a back-up or guy that splits time with Howard. The whole idea of the future ramifications just compounds the short-term ones to an even more exciting, nerve-wracking, and also potentially inconsequential degree all at the same time.
The biggest flaws in Nabokov's game are both his aggressiveness (see: Russia vs. Canada, 2010 Olympics) and lack of focus (see: numerous soft goals) and while both aggressiveness and lack of of focus are normally contradictory flaws, he seems to have both. I feel like these are two things that could be remedied by the Detroit system, which although the San Jose one is pretty identical since Todd McLellan took over, you can't out-Detroit Detroit.
Also by now, every kind of speculation has been thrown around: Detroit's doing it as a favor to Nabokov now, so he'll sign in the off-season. Ken Holland has agreements with other teams to a trade for Nabokov if he's claimed (which would certainly be against NHL rules). Chris Osgood's injury is far worse than expected (no real evidence of that thus far).
While all of these are fun ideas to entertain and debate, we won't really know what the motivations are or who will claim him until 12 pm Saturday at the latest. But for now, all we can do is wait to hear what direction this will turn.