Nabokov excited about joining Lightning
Veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said he had a few options during free agency, but once the Lightning called, it became his No. 1 focus.
"It pretty much starts from the top, with Steve Yzerman, the coach, and the depth of the team is going to get better," Nabokov said. "I like the direction of the team is going, with a lot of young guys. There's a lot of talent there."
Nabokov, 38, has played well in recent seasons, including going 15-14 with a 2.74 goals against average in 40 games last season for the Islanders. Though he's played in at least 40 games in each of the last 12 seasons, Nabokov is open to any role, even if that means seeing less action behind starter Ben Bishop.
"Absolutely," Nabokov said. "Anytime my name is called, I'm going to be ready. Obviously I understand my age, and people talk about it. But I don't feel it. Nothing I can do with the situation. At this age, I'm fine with it. I'm still enjoying playing hockey. I still feel like I can help the team achieve a goal so that's why I'm still playing."
When told GM Steve Yzerman hoped he'd be a mentor for prospects Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nabokov said he'd be glad to lead by example and answer any questions they have, but knows the team has a goalie coach. Nabokov has been impressed what he's seen from Tampa Bay as an opponent in recent years, and believes it has a "great chance" to be successful during the regular season and, he hopes, deep in the playoffs.
"It's hard when we play against them," Nabokov said. "With Stamkos as the leader of the team, and the defense and the depth and how young we are. That's what I like. It's not easy to play against when we played (Tampa), and that's what I like about it."