The Islanders will exercise an option that allows the team to retain the rights to Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for another season.
Because Nabokov refused to report to the team when claimed on re-entry waivers in January, he violated the terms of his one-year, $570,000 contract. The Islanders have the right to "toll" the contract and extend it another year.
“He was signed by Detroit, put on waivers," Islanders GM Garth Snow told Newsday when reached by telephone Friday. "We claimed him and he didn’t report. Therefore, we had to suspend him and it's within our right to toll the contract.”
Both NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Nabokov’s agent Don Meehan confirmed to Newsday that they have been made aware of this plan as well.
In order to officially toll and push his services to next season, the Islanders will have to submit a request to the league before July 1.
“We haven’t submitted our request yet, but we have plenty of time to do it,” Snow said when reached by telephone Friday.
Nabokov originally inked a deal to return to the NHL with Detroit, but because he began the season in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, had to pass through re-entry waivers first. When the Islanders claimed him, he refused to report and was subsequently suspended.
Assuming the Islanders toll his contract, a trade may be the next step in what has been a lengthy and dramatic saga.
Per Article 13.23 of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Islanders were prohibited from trading Nabokov to another club “for the balance of the playing season” but can move him once that expires.
Heading into training camp with three goalies -- Al Montoya, Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin -- the Islanders may view that as the most appealing option.
“If we were to entertain something like that it would be after the playoffs,” Snow said. “The phase we’re in right now is that we just finished up our exit meetings and we have to go through scouts meeting and look at any avenue to make the team better.”
In the meantime, the former Vezina Trophy finalist will not be idle. Meehan confirmed that Islanders GM Garth Snow has consented to allow Nabokov play for Russia in this year’s IIHF World Championships in Slovakia.
According to a separate source, however, that permission was granted pending a written agreement from Nabokov that he will not file a grievance with the NHLPA once the Islanders toll his contract.
The tournament begins April 29th.