I know you're thinking what I'm thinking. Another update on the Evgeni Nabokov situation. Big deal. And it should be, because it raises all those questions about the NHL's waiver and free agents rules. We've already discussed how Nabokov was signed by the Red Wings was claimed by the New York Islanders, how he didn't report to them, and now the breaking news was he is suspended for the rest of the year by the team.
And Ken Holland is secretly all smiles. If you read my article on Holland's brain of genius, you saw how I tried to jump into his mind to see why he does what he does. Now the picture seems to be getting a little clearer.
Now that Nabokov can't play for the rest of season (from NHL.com), his contract will be up at the end of the season. Now, considering clauses in his contract, the Isles could keep Nabokov out of the NHL next year as well. I'm not sure I see this happening, as taking a cap hit for nothing, as small as it it, is just plain dumb. He clearly doesn't want to play in New York, so if I was Garth Snow I would let him walk. Maybe it's just me but it seems to me that the Islanders are praying for Nabokov to play for them. From a team standpoint it might be the exact opposite of what that team needs: a distraction.
Back to Detroit. If the Islanders do the sensible thing and let Nabokov go at the end of the year, only one thing will happen and you can quote me on this: he will be a Red Wing on July 1st, 2011. Do I think it's a good move by Detroit to get him here? I sure hope it is. If Holland, Babcock and some of the leaders on Detroit's club can talk to Nabokov about playing for the wins and not for the money, I would be all for the deal. If Nabokov brings baggage with him (like his contract hold-outs), then he can play in Nantucket for all I care.
With Chris Osgood potentially calling it a career by the sounds of his last interview, saying "We'll see what happens, it's kind of an unknown zone for me," I think that Nabokov would be a good stop-gap before guys like Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce are ready for the big leagues. The Wings are known for turning players that lost their game (Dan Cleary, Chris Osgood) or had some inner demons (Todd Bertuzzi, Darren McCarty) into legitimate NHL players. They redefine their games to make it in the league. Maybe all Nabokov needs is a change of scenery and a change of attitude. Wearing the Winged Wheel will do just that.