Islanders sign Nabokov to one-year extension

The New York Islanders made a good insurance move and inked goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year extension today.

“I’m thrilled to commit to this team for next season,” Nabokov said. “We have a great group in the locker room of young, talented players and we’re heading in the right direction. I’m excited to have the chance to help get this team back to the playoffs.”

The 36-year-old will earn $2.75 million for the 2012-13 season. However, the contract does not include a no-trade or no-movement clause.

Nabokov currently has a 17-18-3 record with the Islanders this season and has played the most games of any Islanders goalie this year thanks to injuries to Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya. He also sports a 2.56 goals against average along with a .912 save percentage.

“Evgeni has proven that he can still play at an elite level in the NHL,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. “He’s given us a chance to win every night and we’re excited to have him back for another season.”

The Islanders originally claimed Nabokov off waivers in January 2011 when the Detroit Red Wings inked him to a contract. Since Nabokov was coming back from a stint in the KHL, he had to clear waivers before he could join the Red Wings. However, Nabokov failed to report to the Islanders last season, prompting the team to suspend him and toll his contract through the 2011-12 season in order for him to fulfill his obligation to New York.

Nabokov basically started the season as the third-string goalie for the Islanders, but injuries to DiPietro and Montoya catapulted Nabokov to the starting position. Montoya, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, will likely not be re-signed by the Islanders, or will be signed as the third string goalie on a two-way contract. Nabokov currently leads all Islanders goaltenders in games played, wins, goals against average and save percentage.

The New York Islanders have a strong core of young talent, led by John Tavares, that has continued to grow and get better each season. Goaltending has always been a struggle, however, with DiPietro, who is locked up through 2021, struggling to stay healthy. The 30-year-old DiPietro has played a total of 51 games over the past five seasons, including eight games this season. Locking up Nabokov gives the Islanders some much-needed security in net in case DiPietro falters again next season.

Nabokov was originally selected in the 9th round (219 overall) by the San Jose Sharks in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He spent his entire NHL career with the Sharks prior to being claimed by New York. Nabokov has more than 300 career wins and won 40 or more games three times in his career.


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