Evgeni Nabokov is the latest big name NHLer to head to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. The KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg signed Nabby to a four year deal worth $24 million.
Nabokov is coming off of one of his best NHL seasons in his career. He went 44-16-10 on the Sharks, which admittedly was partly due to having such a superior squad skating in front of him. Nevertheless, Nabokov posted a 2.43 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Prior to signing in the KHL, Nabokov spent 10 seasons with the Sharks in the National Hockey League. He was drafted by the team in 1994 and won the Calder Trophy in the 2000-2001 season. Named an All-Star in 2007-2008, Nabokov suited up for Team Russia at the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year and posted a 4.16 GAA in the process.
When Nabokov arrives in SKA St. Petersburg, he’ll have the company of some other former NHLers. Sergei Zubov, Darius Kasparaitis, Alexei Yashin, and Sergei Brylin all play for the club.
In context, the deal works out well for both the KHL and the Sharks. San Jose has the opportunity to move on to a goaltender who can produce when it counts. Nabokov, for all of his statistical success, looked a little shaky at times in the post-season and didn’t step it up when the chips were down for the Sharks. Getting swept by the Blackhawks may well have been the nail in the coffin.
It is probable that Nabby’s salary demands just didn’t match his level of play in the NHL anymore. In light of this, he may have chosen to go where the money was like other players are starting to do. Regardless, Nabokov will probably enjoy some success in the KHL. If nothing else, he’ll enjoy a bigger paycheque.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.