We've all had the weekend to reflect, we've all had the weekend to hear from those involved, and now it's time to get opinions. Not the knee-jerk ones like when it happened, but more thought out and logical ones. However, when I think about it all, I keep coming back to something the fantastic Ryan Classic said-- Nabokov and his agent misread the NHL market once again.
When Nabokov came back from Russia, he was on the clock to make a decision and to be honest, no many thought he would come off his stance like in the off-season, where he wanted somewhere between $5-6 million for his services. Yet, at $570K, who's NOT going to put a claim in, especially if you're near the bottom. There's a lot of people wondering why the New York Islanders put a claim in, knowing that he probably wouldn't report.
The answer to that is simple-- Garth Snow is in the business of making his team better if he believes Nabokov could do that. When they dealt Dwayne Roloson, you had to wonder if Rick DiPietro could carry the load. With trips to the IR, the answer is no. So, rather than wear out young guys like Nate Lawson and Kevin Poulin-- why not pick up Nabokov for the rest of the year in order to give the youngsters more seasoning and take some pressure off of DiPietro's fragile body. The whole start of this was that Nabokov wanted to go to a team where he would get a lot of playing time, before he said he wanted to be on a Cup contender. What better place to go than Long Island, show yourself off and then hope to get a contract with a better team in the next season??
The point of the waiver system is so that free agents can't come and go as they please. It's a fail-safe system to guys who decided at the start of the year they wanted to play overseas rather than take a menial job in the NHL or be sent to the AHL. The Blues can attest to the fact that the waivers is a crapshoot when it comes to guys (they lost Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood to the same thing), but in the end, it's a safe-haven so that no one can cry foul when someone who was overseas decided they can't cut it over there and want to come back to the NHL; everyone gets a crack and no one is slighted in this process.
With Nabokov, people are saying that as a player; he should be able to go where he wants-- even equating it to real-life scenarios. This isn't real life-- this is sports. Plus, it's not like he's doing something different, like being an usher for the Isles or playing centerfield for the Mets; he'll be a goalie, but in a different market.
Nabokov had the choice to pick who he wanted in July and when no one would give him the money he wanted, he went to Russia to a team who would give him the money. You cannot blame him for that, we all want to get paid. However, he wasn't up to snuff in the KHL, his family didn't like it there, and he asked for his release. Since he chose the KHL over the NHL, I believe-- as does the NHL with the waiver rules-- that he shouldn't be allowed to just go to whomever he wants. If he wanted to stay in the NHL, he should have lowered his price in July and we wouldn't be having this debate. Since he turned his back to the NHL, he needs to go through the process and be accessible to all the teams. Obviously, people will say that free agency is like this and to a point, they are correct. However, when it happens during the season, it's not free anymore
Kudos to Snow for wanting to actually improve his team and show that he wants to get his team better. Nabokov may have wanted to be on a Stanley Cup contender when he decided to come back, but if he was really serious about doing that-- he shouldn't have been so hard-line with his demands this summer, nor should he have been shocked when his price goes down drastically that the worst team wanted to have their mitts on you. Will Nabokov be looked down upon if he doesn't report?? Maybe, especially when the contract is up. The Islanders can't do any worse, let's be honest. Will Nabokov will be looked down upon if he DOES show up?? Time will tell.