Jul 9, 2013, 1:01 PM EDT
A few eyebrows were raised when the Isles let Evgeni Nabokov hit free agency, only to bring him back just hours into the signing period.
To hear GM Garth Snow explain it, the club simply didn’t want to mess with chemistry.
“The team wanted him back,” Snow told Newsday. “And Nabby wanted to remain an Islander.”
Snow and Nabokov haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to negotiations and compensation. That history dates back to how the Isles acquired the Russian netminder (remember this?), and carried over to this offseason, when Nabokov’s future on Long Island appeared cloudy.
In May, it was reported that Nabokov and Snow hadn’t discussed a new deal in over a month.
In late June, it appeared both sides were prepared to part ways as free agency crept closer and a new deal wasn’t close.
“We couldn’t find the middle ground right now but I never close the door on anything,” Nabokov said. “That’s where we’re at.
“I’m still hopeful something will get done.”
In the end, though, it sounds like Snow realized he had a good thing in Nabokov.
The 37-year-old appeared in 41 of New York’s 48 contests last season while posting a 23-11-7 record with a .910 save percentage and 2.50 GAA, backstopping the Isles to their first playoff appearance in six years.
Of course, other factors could’ve been at play.
What promised to be a deep goaltending market thinned out rather quickly. Mike Smith and Niklas Backstrom re-upped in Phoenix and Minnesota; Jonathan Bernier was acquired by Toronto, Cory Schneider went to New Jersey (locking Roberto Luongo into Vancouver) and Ray Emery signed in Philadelphia.
Within the few hours of Nabokov hitting free agency and the Isles re-signing him, it became clear there weren’t many other superior options out there, which probably played a role in Nabokov getting a raise from $2.75 million last year to $3.25 this year.
But according to Snow, it was all about keeping together the current group.
“When you have a core, with most of the guys drafted here or given an opportunity here, we have a tight-knit group,” he explained. “We’re happy with the goalies we have.”
- Tortorella calls meltdown ‘a kick in the teeth’ 0
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 7
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 13
- Sens’ Ceci won’t return after Weber’s shot lacerates his ear (Update) 7
- Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’ 22
- Nolan gets a game for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Joensuu 35
- It doesn’t sound like 3-on-3 overtime is going to be a thing 38
- Blues finish night on top of NHL standings after shootout win 15
- Kings’ Nolan gets double-minor for punching Oilers’ Joensuu 54
- Extended overtime likely to be on agenda in GMs’ March meeting 42
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (70)
- Report: Flyers table ‘substantial offer’ for Kesler, also inquiring about Edler (59)