The New York Islanders could have some crowded creases in training camp with veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov telling Newsday that he will attend training camp intent on earning a spot on the team, provided he's not traded in advance.
"What I want is to get back to the NHL, whether that's with the Islanders or another team," Nabokov told Islanders' beat reporter Katie Strang. "If the Islanders think I can help them, that's fine with me."
After playing nine full seasons in San Jose, Nabokov signed a multi-year contract to play in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg last summer. However, his contract was terminated in December and Nabokov tried to get back into the NHL.
The Detroit Red Wings signed him to a one-year contract worth a reported $570,000, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulated that Nabokov had to be placed on waivers before he could join the Red Wings. That gave every team below the Red Wings in the standings a chance to claim him.
The Islanders plucked Nabokov off the waiver-wire on Jan. 22, but the goalie never reported to the team. The Islanders suspended Nabokov for the remainder of the season and per the Collective Bargaining Agreement were allowed to keep his rights for the 2011-12 season.
Nabokov told Newsday that he didn't report because the Islanders needed him right away and he wouldn't have been ready to play in an NHL game for three to four weeks. He said Detroit would have been an ideal fit because the Red Wings were willing to give him time.
Nevertheless, with Nabokov now saying he wants back in, the Islanders have to figure out if it's worth keeping him and letting him try to earn a roster spot or trading him in advance of training camp.
"Last season was a bit of a rollercoaster for me," Nabokov told Newsday. "It was tough, I'm not going to lie. Physically and mentally, I'm much better now."