Veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been claimed on waivers by the New York Islanders one day after signing a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings.
Nabokov began this season playing in the Kontinental Hockey League but had been seeking a return to the NHL since being released from his contract with SKA St. Petersburg in December. The Red Wings signed him to a one-year deal reportedly worth a pro-rated portion of $570,000, but he had to pass through waivers to join Detroit because he began the season in Europe.
The Islanders have carried three goaltenders of late, but rookie Nathan Lawson left the game Friday with a left knee injury. They also have rookie Kevin Poulin, who is 2-1-1 in six appearances, and veteran Rick DiPietro.
Evgeni Nabokov (Getty Images)
The Wings were also looking for goaltending help. Starter Jimmy Howard returned Thursday after missing six days with a bruised knee, and backup Chris Osgood is expected to miss at least six weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery.
Joey MacDonald, the starter with the Wings' AHL team in Grand Rapids, played while Howard and Osgood were out and backed up Howard on Thursday night. Rookie Thomas McCollum, who had backed up MacDonald, is also out with a broken finger.
Nabokov, a native of Kazakhstan, was considered one of the top goaltenders on the free agent market after finishing last season with a 44-16-10 record, 2.43 goals-against average and three shutouts for San Jose.
However, no club offered him a contract in the off-season and he opted to play in Russia, only to be released from a four-year, $24 million deal last month. Nabokov was 8-8-5 with a 3.02 goals against average and a .888 save percentage this season for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The ninth-round pick of the Sharks in the 1994 Entry Draft spent all 10 of his NHL seasons with San Jose and was 293-178-29-37 with a 2.39 GAA and 50 shutouts. He led the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals last spring.
Nabokov is a two-time NHL All-Star and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2000-01. He led the League with 46 wins in 2007-08 and was an NHL First-Team All-Star at seasons' end.