Nabokov's Injury May Increase His Value

Evgeni Nabokov (Robert Kowal/Flickr)Evgeni Nabokov was excellent in the Islanders 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night and earned another start against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, but he would never make it to the end as he left in the first period with a groin injury. Rick DiPietro came in relief for the win with fans left wondering how serious the injury would be to the team's most valuable trading chip. After being re-evaluated, Nabokov has been placed on the IR retroactive to November 17th. 

Groin injuries can be tricky, especially for goaltenders. Although he is a forward, Nino Niederreiter missed near to a month of playing time after suffering a groin injury in the pre-season. It's tough to swallow, but it's very possible that Nabokov could be out for a similar amount of time. 

Everyone wanted an end to the three-headed monster that was parading the Islanders net; well now you got it. But this is not the way to have gotten it done.

To make matters worse, Al Montoya is out with a strained hamstring, prompting the GM Garth Snow to recall goalie prospect Anders Nilsson from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (we've been here before, haven't we?) Nilsson is 6'6; a monster in the cage, but he is only 21 years old in his first season of minor-league hockey. He currently leads all Sound Tigers goalies with five wins and a 2.86 goals-against average this season along with a .908 save percentage in seven appearances. 

Nilsson will be backing up DiPietro when they play the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins tonight. But DP's health is never a guarantee, so hopefully Montoya can return to action sooner rather than later.

And I will digress here and say that I feel terrible for Montoya. The guy began the year as the starting goaltender on opening night and looked to be the rock between the pipes that this team needed going forward. Since then he has seen the press-box more often than not as the team has been trying to shop Nabokov and get DP back into a rotation when he probably deserves to play more than anyone else. 

But back to Nabokov. 

Evgeni Nabokov (Robert Kowal/Flickr)If Nabby were to be out for a month, he likely would not be returning until just before the holidays of December. The team would have to get him back on the ice to help boost his value a bit more, prove that he's healthy and generate other teams' interest in the veteran goalie; that shouldn't be too hard to do. Then comes the holiday roster freeze and before you know it we are at the beginning of January, just a mere two months away from the trade deadline. 

In that time, team's that have inexperienced goaltenders that are challenging for a top-eight spot will be salivating for a goalie like Nabokov to help them compete for a Stanley Cup title. Other players that have been rumored to be on the block, such as Blake Comeau, may have improved their trade value to a team looking to add a second/third line winger. 

A lot of fans may have been barking for a trade to come now (and who knows what Snow really has up his sleeve at this point), but waiting for Nabokov to be healthy at the end of the season may end up working out in the Islanders favor. 

Remember that Dwayne Roloson was traded last year to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Ty Wishart early on in the season. It wasn't a bad trade as Snow probably wasn't going to get a team to part ways with much more for an aging goalie that was potentially facing retirement. But many felt that Roloson was undervalued; that his talent, aside from his age, could have netted a bigger return had the trigger been pulled later on in the year. 

Well all I have to say now is let's wait and see what happens with Nabokov. 

Stay tuned for Evan Pivnick's pregame post for tonight's game against the Bruins! 

Also, I would like to inform everyone that I will be appearing on Hockey This Week at www.pucktalklive.com with Mike Carver (@IceCreepsMike) and NYI Blog Box member Tony Stabile from Hockey Independent (@tonystabile) at 6:15 PM. Make sure to listen in and feel free to call with any questions! http://bit.ly/v4ilBr

-Rob McGowan

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