Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nothing simple about Tampa Bay Lightning's possible interest in goalie Evgeni Nabokov

When it comes to Evgeni Nabokov, things are not as simple as they seem.

This is not to say the Lightning is going after the free agent goaltender. General manager Steve Yzerman, with a 17-10-4 team entering Saturday, has time to let goalies Mike Smith and Dan Ellis get their games in order, though his patience is not limitless.

It's just that signing Nabokov is all about a trip through the collective bargaining agreement minefield.

Because Nabokov, a former Sharks star, wants to come back to the league from Russia — where last week because of a "family matter" he was released from his four-year, $24 million contract with St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League — any NHL team that signs him must also put him through waivers.

The rule is in place to stop teams from stockpiling talent, but it also makes signing top-end players tricky for budget-conscious organizations.

Let's say Nabokov agrees to a team-friendly contract with the Lightning. The deal certainly would make him attractive to other franchises looking for help in net, such as the Capitals, and might prompt a waiver claim.

The way to defeat that is to sign the player to a deal other teams will not want to pay, but Tampa Bay certainly is in no position to overpay anyone.

The more prudent strategy for Yzerman might be to wait and see if Nabokov, 35, who had 293 wins in 10 seasons with San Jose, signs with another team and then evaluate whether to make a waiver claim of his own.

By waiting, Yzerman also gives his goaltending situation time to play out.

Tampa Bay's combined goals-against average of 3.34 entered Saturday 29th in the 30-team league, and its .875 save percentage was at the bottom. But in the first game after the Nabokov rumors surfaced, Smith on Wednesday played perhaps his best game of the season in a 2-1 shootout win over the Thrashers.

Sure, as Yzerman said, Smith has to do it "again and again and again," but it was a start to what the GM would consider his preferable strategy: sticking with the goalies he has.

Nothing simple about Tampa Bay Lightning's possible interest in goalie Evgeni Nabokov 12/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 18, 2010 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.