I've found myself some time tonight and looked at my StatCounter and found that some people were looking for the waiver order for Evgeni Nabokov, as he awaits to see whether or not he will be picked up by another team or be allowed to join the Red Wings' 23-man roster. I can't believe the amount of anticipation to see what happens out in the Twitterverse, but I'll admit, I'm kind of excited as well.
So, as it stands, the Detroit Red Wings signed Nabokov to a 1-year deal, worth $570,000 annually, which works out to be about a $250,000 cap hit for the rest of the season. There is a no-movement clause to his deal, meaning any team that actually takes on Nabokov, won't be able to shift him to the minors or deal him without issue. The Red Wings put those clauses in the deal, in order to try and stave off some interest from other teams and it should work in some cases.
As the waiver order goes, it goes from the lowest point percentage earned to the best, in terms of priority, if more than one team put a claim in for Nabokov. Let's see how that shakes out.
First up is the Devils, as they are currently the worst team in hockey. Nevertheless, with Martin Brodeur starting to finally show some life in the Devils crease and a capable back-up in Johan Hedberg, those are two pretty good reasons why the Devils commented to the negative side, that they'll be in on Nabokov tomorrow morning. Despite the bargain basement price of $250,000 for the rest of the season, the Devils are still wrestling with some cap issues of their own and don't need the headache.
The Oilers might be in the basement of the Western Conference, but I really think that their believe in their goaltending, as that really hasn't been the worst part of their season. They held onto Jeff Deslauriers and carried three goalies until it was safe for them to demote him, I don't think they want to do the same with Devan Dubnyk, who might be tempting to another team that may be in on Nabokov.
For my money, I really think the Islanders will take a shot on Nabokov, because they don't really have anything to lose. Rick DiPietro is playing an on-again, off-again schedule, they have two back-ups competing for time and the team still looks like they want to play spoiler for the rest of the year. They have cap space up the ying yang and they could really give their franchise goalie some more time to get back to 100% and to a point where he doesn't have to rest every other day.
Failing the Islanders desire to improve their goaltending status in the league for the rest of the season, the Senators are probably looking at their 13-point deficit in the East and thinking that they have an outside chance at making it with a goalie they can play for the rest of the season. For the cost, it isn't a bad gamble to take for most people's money, but there is also the thought process that they might as well give more time to Mike Brodeur or Robin Lehner, work the future in their favour.
With the rumour mill still churning J-S Giguere through, grinding him down into a trade-able pulp, the only real way I could see the Leafs picking up Nabokov, would be to deal away their already well-paid veteran goalie. They don't really lose anything in terms of skill, since Nabokov hasn't likely played much in the last month and had terrible numbers in the KHL, compared to Giguere's work today. The Leafs are awfully tight to the cap ceiling themselves, so a deal has to be in place, no matter which way you slice it, by the looks of things.
The term rebuilding may have surfaced this week when talking about the Flames and it would seem awfully odd for this team, who hasn't had much traction in the schedule or in the win column, try to improve their standing with a veteran goalie like Nabokov. Miikka Kiprusoff almost looks like he's at his wits end this season and with Henrik Karlsson getting more starts, adding another chef for the stew doesn't make too much sense either today or tomorrow. I don't expect the Flames in on Nabokov.
The Panthers are coming in at number seven and with the attitude that Tomas Vokoun has developed over getting passed over for Scott Clemmensen, it doesn't sound unreasonable that the Panthers would try to move Vokoun and bring in Nabokov to help finish their season off. The word that I've read surrounding the Panthers is that the team is still trying to re-sign Vokoun to a new deal, which would likely suggest that a spur of the moment decision is unlikely for Dale Tallon and his crew.
The Sabres got off to a terrible start to the season, but that doesn't really effect Ryan Miller's stock too much, as their All-Star goalie is playing really well at the moment, minus Friday night's game against the Islanders, where bad luck was all he had. Even if they were to claim a guy like Nabokov, it doesn't seem really likely that Nabokov would report, knowing full well that he wouldn't get the time that he wants to play. Even if Nabokov was to get this far, I don't expect the Sabres to be anywhere near the Russian keeper.
Neither goalie in Columbus has been too jaw-dropping, but there seems to be a lot of faith in Steve Mason, in his 3rd season, and Mathieu Garon does play the back-up role fairly well. Adding Nabokov would be a pretty heavy sleight against Mason in this case and that just seems rather unlikely tomorrow. The Jackets are only five points out of a playoff spot in the West, which might be that little itch that keeps Scott Howson up at night, but I have the feeling he'll sleep well.
The Los Angeles Kings have to be thought of as a team that is quite comfortable with their goaltending tandem going forward, no matter how poorly the team in front of them are going. Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier are two quality goaltenders that have some long-term potential with the club and are doing a fine job of fighting for minutes as it is. Nabokov would not be a very good fit, despite being just outside the playoff picture at the moment.
If the Atlanta Thrashers going to be thought of as players in the Nabokov sweepstakes, their mindset may be that Ondrej Pavelec may need some more help to develop his game and playing behind a regular season superstar like Nabokov would be a treat for his development going forward. There is also quite the European flavour to the team, so Nabokov wouldn't be out of place and with Chris Mason on the Injured Reserve with a knee injury, there might be some room for him. I could see Atlanta be in for the end of the year, helping to get into the playoffs.
The rumour mill has suggested that the San Jose Sharks would be putting a bid in for their former number one goalie, who they didn't re-sign to a contract, believing a deal would likely cost them an arm and a leg. With a cheap deal already in place, Antero Niittymaki hurt at the moment and being a point out of the playoffs, it doesn't seem too far-fetched. Antti Niemi has started to take the minutes now and the team has turned a corner of sorts, so picking up a guy like Nabokov would suggest that Niittymaki's groin injury may be more serious that initially reported. It could be a full house if Niittymaki was to return to two starting goalies already there.
Already, I have found four teams out of these twelve that I think will take a long look at claiming Nabokov and with the Hurricanes with two good goalies, the Blues working over Jaroslav Halak, the Ducks riding Jonas Hiller, the Wild having Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore, the Avalanche riding Craig Anderson, it really begins to thin out the crowd.
The only other team beyond the Avalanche are the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been rather disappointing as defending champions, might not be terribly comfortable with the inexperienced Corey Crawford or the aging Marty Turco, who have been good enough to keep the Blackhawks in the playoff race, but confidence will likely become shaky when the playoffs roll around. In theory, the Blackhawks may have enough cap space to fit in the small cost of Nabokov, so there is a chance a claim could be thrown in. Will it get any priority? Seems unlikely to me.
We don't have too much longer to wait, I know I'll be eagerly anticipating the news.