Al Montoya has emerged as the Islanders’ best goalie and since the Islanders are going to be saddled with Rick DiPietro’s contract forever, Evgeni Nabokov is the odd man out. That’s fine for Nabokov, I would imagine, since he didn’t want to be there in the first place and it doesn’t look like the team will be making the playoffs, sitting last in the Atlantic.
The problem, though, is the Blue Jackets are interested, and that means moving on to an even worse team and market.
Nabokov wants to start and he won’t get that on Long Island – at least, until DiPietro somehow injures himself while watching TV on his couch. The Jackets are desperate for a goalie (which should’ve been addressed over the summer) because Steve Mason is awful and everyone else is either injured or equally incompetent.
If Nabokov goes to Columbus, the only positive is that he’ll be the no. 1 goalie, but he has an even smaller chance of winning there than on Long Island.
The Islanders have everything to gain from trading away Nabokov. They don’t need him at all, short or long-term, and they could get a nice haul for him. It also gives Jack Capuano one less headache, since he’s been having a lot of trouble handling a three-goalie situation.
It’s difficult for Capuano because each of his three goalies have a bad yet completely justified reason to start. Nabokov has the most experience and career wins with 294, but DiPietro has that franchise contract and sitting a $4.5M goalie just doesn’t look good. That leaves Montoya, who gets to start because he’s the best of the worst, which isn’t exactly a comforting thought.
The rumour was that Scott Howson was planning on sending yet another defenceman, this time Fedor Tyutin, for Nabokov, and thank goodness that wasn’t true. If that deal had gone through it should’ve been immediate grounds to dismiss Howson.
Nabokov been injured (two starts since Oct. 27) and average (1-3-0, 2.84 GAA), while Tyutin is second only to James Wisniewski in ice-time and leads the team in hits and blocked shots. Given the poor market for goalies (why else would Columbus consider Nabokov), you’d think the price would be a lot cheaper than that. Keep in mind the Jackets need to add more quality depth on that blueline (which makes the Kris Russell trade even more perplexing). But then again, this is Scott Howson, and it’s becoming a daily routine to question whether or not he is capable (and sane) GM.
Either way, Snow hasn’t approached Nabokov about waiving his NTC, and it sounds like Nabokov doesn’t really want to go to Columbus anyway… and who could blame him?
The smart thing for Nabokov to do is wait.
Wait until that DiPietro injury… it’ll come.