Detroit Red Wings Will Sign Evgeni Nabokov, but He'll Never Be a Red Wing

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IJanuary 20, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 16:  Goaltender Evgeni Nabokovof #20 the San Jose Sharks looks to make a save while taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 16, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Multiple sources, including and the NHL's media site, are reporting that the Red Wings are about to sign veteran netminder Evgeni Nabokov to an undisclosed deal that would see him return to the NHL.

Nabokov signed a four-year deal over the summer to play in the KHL. However, after a lackluster start to his season with SKA St. Petersburg, the team released the goalie, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The decision to sign Nabokov is curious inasmuch as Detroit has a starting goalie in Jimmy Howard, and though veteran backup Chris Osgood is on the shelf with a groin injury for the next six weeks, he is expected to continue his season with the Red Wings.

Regardless of the reasons for the signing, it seems almost certain that Nabokov will never put on a Red Wings sweater.

As the St. Louis Blues have discovered twice this season, signing a former NHL player from the KHL is no guarantee that that player will join your team.

The Blues signed both Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood to contracts that would have ostensibly made them St. Louis Blues.

However, due to the fact that such players must go through re-entry waivers, thus exposing them to being picked up by other teams, the two forwards ended up going to Nashville and San Jose, respectively.

The idea that 29 other teams, many with goaltending issues of their own, would let Nabokov go untouched to Detroit is unrealistic, to put it mildly.

Tampa Bay, Washington and even Nabokov's former NHL club San Jose could benefit from a veteran goalie on their roster.

That they'd let a player such as Nabokov slip through their collective fingers seems highly unlikely.

Speculation on why Detroit is making this move is a story in itself. However, the near impossibility of Nabokov clearing waivers makes any speculation moot.

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