Evgeni Nabokov wasn't on the ice for the Islanders again Sunday at practice, but he is in the team's plans.
Don Meehan, Nabokov's agent, told Newsday in an email Sunday that talks will "start soon" between himself and general manager Garth Snow on a contract for the 36-year-old goaltender, who has resurrected his NHL career with a solid season.
Nabokov (flu) has missed the last two games and Sunday's practice. He likely won't be well enough to play in Monday's Coliseum matinee against Ottawa or Tuesday's game in Buffalo.
Snow, who declined comment on any current or future contract talks but reiterated that he has no plans to trade Nabokov before next Monday's deadline, appears to envision Nabokov teaming next season with 21-year-old Kevin Poulin, who made 33 saves in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Hurricanes and likely will get the call in goal Monday.
There are no assurances that Nabokov will take what the Isles will be offering. He's playing this season for the veteran's minimum of $575,000, the deal he signed with the Red Wings in January 2011 that came with a full no-trade clause.
The Isles claimed Nabokov on waivers, the goalie declined to report and Snow tolled the contract to this season before the two men met in April and Nabokov arrived in training camp ready to restart his NHL career.
As bargains go, he's been one of the best: a 14-14-0 record, a 2.24 goals-against average and a player who has been one of the main reasons the Isles still are within sight of eighth place.
Nabokov also has grown to like what's around him. "I never asked for a trade, I've never done this," he told Newsday two weeks ago. "If they come to me, that's a different story, but they haven't done that. I like what I see over here. I like the direction this team is going. Now a lot of people said last season the reason I didn't come here is because it's a bad organization. That's not true. I didn't come because I didn't think I was ready. I came to training camp ready to go, and I think it's been good."
Notes & quotes:Kyle Okposo missed practice with the flu. If he can't play Monday, Tim Wallace will go back into the lineup and rookie Nino Niederreiter could get a chance to play with one of the top two lines.