40-Year-Old Goalie – Free Agent
Evgeni Nabokov Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $1.55 million deal with the Lightning in July of 2014.
As expected, Nabokov announced his retirement as an NHL player on Wednesday, the Sharks' official site reports.
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Evgeni Nabokov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Evgeni Nabokov.
Nabokov is far from done, but he's no longer the elite twine-tender he was when he was in his early 30s. Still, he can deliver decent numbers in a backup role, especially in the Bolts' structure. He'll play behind some defenders who can actually prevent scoring chances, for once. He will likely see upwards of 30 games to help starter Ben Bishop stay fresh. He's a great handcuff in daily leagues and you may even get value in deep, three-goalie leagues.
Nabokov was not the Islanders' first choice to start in goal for this upcoming season. Ray Emery was, but Nabokov was re-signed after Emery ended up in Philadelphia. He had a solid regular season in 2012-13, but is not the type of goalie who's going to take your team to the next level -- not at this point in his career. Problem for the Islanders is that they simply don't have enough trust in any of their young goaltenders to just hand them the job. Nabokov struggled mightily in the second half of back-to-back games and fell apart in the Islanders' first-round playoff series loss to Pittsburgh last year. Was his poor play due to the Penguins' explosive offense or was Nabokov just tired from the amount of work he had during a shortened season? Look for the Islanders to pay careful attention to his workload this season.
Nabokov had a solid seaon for the Islanders last year as he posted a 2.55 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 42 games. Those numbers could have been much better if he had a quality defense in front of him. Nabokov is slated to once again be the Islanders starting goaltender, which does limit his fantasy value, but the Isles are getting better as a team, just not quickly. He could also be traded at almost any point to a team that needs a veteran presence in net and is willing to pay the price for Nabokov. He's a solid option once most of the second-tier goaltending options have been taken, just don't expect him to carry your team.
Nabokov had an eventful 2010. First, he decided to come back to the NHL from the KHL, expressed interest in playing for Detroit, but was ultimately claimed by the Islanders. He then refused to play for the Isles, sat out the season, and now has to play this season with the Isles. It would've been a much better idea if Nabokov would've just played with the Islanders last season because he would've been a free agent this season and could have made his way out of Long Island. Anyway, he has stated he will report to the Islanders this season, yet in all likelihood, the club will look to trade Nabokov as he just doesn't fit into the plans.
Nabokov did enough in the regular season to pull in 40-plus wins for the second consecutive year. However, his goals against average rose from 2.14 in 2007-08, to 2.44 in 2008-09. Nabby’s recent struggle with consistency is concerning, and he’ll be heavily scrutinized after failing to match the stellar play of Anaheim rookie goalie Jonas Hiller in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs. Draft him for the wins knowing that he’s in a contract year and could right the ship with a few minor adjustments.
Nabokov will return to San Jose to stop biscuits in his ninth season with the team. Only New Jersey's Martin Brodeur saw more minutes in the regular season than Nabokov (4,561), cementing Nabokov's reputation as a durable goalie. Denying pucks looked easy to the 33-year-old, as he posted a robust .910 save percentage, good for third in the league in 2007-08. So impressive was Nabokov that he nearly edged Brodeur for the coveted Vezina Trophy. The Sharks would be wise to rest Nabokov more often, but regardless, he is an excellent fantasy selection at goalie this season.
Nabokov won’t have to worry about splitting time this year. He will start every game that he wants to. While it will be hard for him to improve on his 2.29 goals against average that he had in last year’s campaign. Expect him to surpass his shutouts total of last season in seven and wins of 25. More starts equals more chances.
He'll begin the year as the 1B to Vesa Toskala's 1A, but Ron Wilson is the type of coach to go with the hot hand, so in deeper leagues don't be afraid to gamble on Nabokov late. He's still got more natural talent from how we see it, and a trade to another city at some point is a possibility as well.
He was near the top of the leaders in just about every major goaltending stat back in 2003-04, and with most of his friends in front of him returning for the coming season (save for D Mike Rathje), we don't see Nabokov stepping down from the list of elite keepers in the league. Mind you, Nabokov probably has no shot at nine shutouts or a .921 save percentage again – given the rule changes in the league – but he should be one of the first 5-6 goalies off your board. You can also tack on contract incentive to the Nabokov file – his deal runs out at the end of 2005-06, but he's angling for a long-term extension from the club.