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Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni nabokov.png
Born July 25, 1975 (1975-07-25) (age 43)
Oskemen, Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 202 lb (92 kg; 14 st 6 lb)
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
Played for NHL:
San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning
RSL/KHL:
Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
Dynamo Moscow
Metallurg Magnitogorsk
SKA Saint Petersburg
National team Template:Country data KAZ &
Template:Country data RUS
NHL Draft 219th overall, 1994
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 1995–2015

Evgeni Nabokov (born Yevgeni Viktorovich Nabokov on July 25, 1975) is a Russian retired professional ice hockey goaltender of the National Hockey League (NHL).

He was selected 219th overall in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.

Playing CareerEdit

Evgeni's career began when NHL head scout of the San Jose Sharks, Tim Burke, saw him on an advertisement during his trip to Russia to scout another player.

Taken late in the ninth round, San Jose had never seen him play; they were more interested in the skill of Evgeni's father, a professional goaltender who played 18 years in Kazakhstan and was called the "Russian Wall" by his peers.

After playing a few years in the American Hockey League (AHL) San Jose minor league affiliate, the Kentucky Thoroughblades, Evgeni played his first NHL game on January 1, 2000, stopping his first (four) shots when he replaced Steve Shields in a game against the Nashville Predators.

On January 19, 2000 of the 1999–2000 season, Evgeni started in his first NHL game, playing against the Colorado Avalanche and famed goalie Patrick Roy, stopping all 39 shots he faced in a 0–0 tie.

In his first three appearances, Evgeni stopped all but one of his first 58 shots, allowing one goal when teammate Stephane Matteau scored on an empty net while Nabokov was skating to the bench on a delayed penalty.

In the second game of the 2000–01 season, Shields hurt his ankle, leaving San Jose without a starting goaltender. The team gave the starting position to Evgeni instead of Miikka Kiprusoff, who was considered the future star goaltender for the team, leaving him in the AHL to gain more experience.

Evgeni went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the Rookie of the Year after playing in the 2001 All-Star Game and helping San Jose get to the playoffs.

The following season on March 10, 2002, he became the first netminder in NHL history to score a powerplay goal, doing so against the Vancouver Canucks.

During the 2002–03 season, Evgeni held out, refusing to sign San Jose's proposed contract. After making only $1 million for two years of highly praised play, he wanted more. He only missed five games before the team met his demands, signing him to a two-year contract.

When he finally signed the contract, Evgeni struggled to regain his form. He later remarked that holding out was extremely unsportsmanlike and vowed to never do it again.

Evgeni held to his word when he avoided arbitration by signing a two-year deal worth $4.425 million per year in 2004, even when players comparable to him were getting more than $6 million per year.

Evgeni was considered one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL, and was often ranked as one of the top ten, if not top five goaltenders in the NHL by magazines like ESPN The Magazine and The Hockey News.

However, the 2005–06 season was an off year for Nabokov as his save percentage of under .900 was a big concern to the team. More notably, he was relegated to the role of backup goaltender, in deference to a red-hot Vesa Toskala.

Despite his less-than-stellar play, Evgeni was signed to a four-year contract extension worth roughly $21.5 million in February 2006. The contract had a no-trade clause that was activated on the condition that San Jose made the playoffs.

Evgeni is known for his excellent positioning and his ability to challenge shooters, but also being injury prone, notably his groin.

During the 2006–07 NHL season, he split the starting goaltending duties with Toskala. In the Sharks 82 games, he started 49.

On February 1, 2007, Evgeni left a game against the Dallas Stars early after injuring his groin. He played all 5 games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2007 NHL playoffs, helping the Sharks defeat the Nashville Predators in 5 games.

During the first half of the 2007–08 NHL season, Evgeni started the first 43 games for the San Jose Sharks, however on January 13, 2008, in Anaheim he received his first day off when Thomas Greiss started his first NHL game.

He was recognized as one of the 'Three Stars' for the NHL in the last week of December 2007 along with Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Jaromír Jagr of the New York Rangers.

In addition to that honor, Evgeni was named the “Sharks Player of the Month” by Seagate Technology in December.

Since the 1996–97 season, Seagate Technology has recognized Sharks players who made contributions to further the team’s accomplishments and makes a donation of $2,500 to The Sharks Foundation on the players’ behalf. Evgeni holds the franchise-record for having won this award nine times.

Evgeni played in his second NHL All-Star Game on January 27, 2008. He stopped all eight shots that came at him, marking the first time since Nikolai Khabibulin's period in the 2002 game that a goalie played an All-Star period where no goals were scored.

Evgeni secured the scoreless period when he blocked both of Ilya Kovalchuk’s shots in the last minute of the second period.

On May 4, 2008, during game six of the 2008 NHL Playoffs Western Conference Semi-Finals, Evgeni made what has been called one of the best glove saves in decades, when he saved a shot from Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars by sliding over from the other side of the post and gloving the puck.

The save was reviewed for several minutes before making it clear Nabokov saved it before it went over the goal line. The game, which ended in a Dallas victory, lasted for four overtime periods and is the eighth longest game in the league's history.

Evgeni recorded 41 wins for San Jose during the following season as the team clinched first overall in the Western Conference and the league.

Despite this, San Jose was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by eighth seed Anaheim Ducks, marking just the fourth time that an eighth seed team defeated a first seed team in the first round of the playoffs.

On October 17, 2009, he played in his 500th career game (all played with the Sharks) and stopped 31 shots in a 4–1 win over the New York Islanders.

On February 11, 2010, Evgeni stopped a career-high 50 shots en route to a 3–2 shootout victory against the Detroit Red Wings, which was also his 11th consecutive road victory, a new NHL record.

San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson announced on June 22, 2010 that Evgeni would not return to the team for the 2010–11 season, a consequence of the NHL's salary cap.

The decision received negative reviews from San Jose fans as Evgeni has been a pivotal part of the team's regular season success. He is considered to be one of the team's two greatest draft picks, along with Patrick Marleau.

Evgeni has also taken heat for being at the center of the team's playoff failures and with tough decisions looming in the form of major free agents Marleau and Joe Pavelski, Wilson felt that keeping him was less of a priority in a cap era.

Following the end of the 2009-10 season, Evgeni's most recent San Jose extension expired and he became an unrestricted free agent.

He was considered one of the "big names" available in free agency, however there was no significant interest shown in him while several teams went for less-expensive options.

On July 7, 2010, it was reported that he had signed a $24 million contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) while early reports varied on the length of the contract between 4 or 6 years.

Because of "family circumstances" on December 13, 2010, Evgeni's contract with SKA St. Petersburg was terminated by mutual consent.

On January 20, 2011, The Sports Network (TSN) reported that Evgeni was close to being signed by the Detroit Red Wings to fill void left by the team's back-up goaltender Chris Osgood, who announced his retirement after the 2010–11 season. Joey MacDonald, who was called up to replace Osgood from Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, ended up starting several games when the team's new starting goaltender Jimmy Howard was injured with a bruised knee.

Evgeni was eventually signed by Detroit the next day. Despite signing with the team, he had to clear waivers to return to the NHL and he was claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders on January 22nd.

Reports then surfaced that Evgeni was unhappy with the development and refused to report to New York, having wanted to play for Detroit. On January 25, 2011, the Islanders announced that they had suspended Nabokov for the remainder of the 2010–11 season because of his failure to report.

New York gave Evgeni permission to play at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships on the condition that he would not contest them extending his contract through the 2011–12 season.

In August of 2011, he stated that he would be reporting to New York's training camp. He played for the team the entirety of the 2011–12 season, wearing the number 20 and eventually took over the starting goaltender position.

Evgeni got his first win with the team on October 15, 2011, against the New York Rangers. On January 14, 2012, he recorded his 300th career win against the Buffalo Sabres, becoming the 26th goaltender to reach the milestone.

On March 21, 2012, Evgeni signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract extension to remain with New York for another season, followed by another one-year $3.25 million contract for the 2013–14 season.

After New York signed goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson in the 2014 off-season, it became clear they didn't have plans to re-sign Evgeni.

On July 1, 2014, he signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth $1.55 million.

After posting a 3–6–2 record as the team's backup goaltender to Ben Bishop, Evgeni was placed on waivers around the midpoint of the season on February 1, 2015. Following his waivers clear, it was questioned as to whether he would report to Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate or consider retirement.

On February 9, 2015, Evgeni was traded back to the Sharks for "future considerations". He announced his retirement on February 11, 2015.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season Edit

Season Team League GP W L T OTL MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1997–98 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 33 10 21 2  — 1866 122 0 3.92 .872
1998–99 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 43 26 14 1  — 2429 106 5 2.62 .909
1999–00 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 2 1 1 0  — 120 3 1 1.50 .952
1999–00 Cleveland Lumberjacks IHL 20 12 4 3  — 1164 52 0 2.68 .920
1999–00 San Jose Sharks NHL 11 2 2 1  — 2645 15 1 2.17 .910
2000–01 San Jose Sharks NHL 66 32 21 7  — 3700 135 6 2.19 .915
2001–02 San Jose Sharks NHL 67 37 24 5  — 3901 149 7 2.29 .918
2002–03 San Jose Sharks NHL 55 19 28 8  — 3227 146 3 2.71 .906
2003–04 San Jose Sharks NHL 59 31 19 8  — 3455 127 9 2.21 .921
2004–05 Metallurg Magnitogorsk RSL 14  —  —  —  — 808 27 3 2.00  —
2005–06 San Jose Sharks NHL 44 16 19  — 7 2515 129 1 3.10 .885
2006–07 San Jose Sharks NHL 50 25 16  — 4 2777 106 7 2.29 .914
2007–08 San Jose Sharks NHL 77 46 21  — 8 4560 163 6 2.14 .910
2008–09 San Jose Sharks NHL 62 41 12  — 8 3686 150 7 2.44 .910
2009–10 San Jose Sharks NHL 71 44 16  — 10 4194 170 3 2.43 .922
2010–11 SKA Saint Petersburg KHL 22 8 8 5  — 1230 62 2 3.02 .888
2011–12 New York Islanders NHL 42 19 18  — 3 2378 101 2 2.55 .914
2012–13 New York Islanders NHL 41 23 11  — 7 2475 103 3 2.50 .910
2013–14 New York Islanders NHL 40 15 14  — 8 2254 103 4 2.74 .905
2014–15 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 11 3 6  — 2 553 29 0 3.15 .882
NHL totals 697 353 227 29 57 40,152 1630 59 2.44 .911

Playoffs Edit

Season Team League GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1999–00 San Jose Sharks NHL 1 0 0 20 0 0 0.00 1.000
2000–01 San Jose Sharks NHL 4 1 3 218 10 1 2.75 .903
2001–02 San Jose Sharks NHL 12 7 5 712 31 0 2.61 .904
2003–04 San Jose Sharks NHL 17 10 7 1052 30 3 1.71 .935
2005–06 San Jose Sharks NHL 1 0 0 12 1 0 5.00 .750
2006–07 San Jose Sharks NHL 11 6 5 701 26 1 2.23 .920
2007–08 San Jose Sharks NHL 13 6 7 853 31 1 2.18 .907
2008–09 San Jose Sharks NHL 6 2 4 362 17 0 2.82 .890
2009–10 San Jose Sharks NHL 15 8 7 890 38 1 2.56 .907
2012–13 New York Islanders NHL 6 2 4 324 24 0 4.44 .842
NHL totals 86 42 42 5143 208 7 2.43 .908

International PlayEdit

While Evgeni is a Russian citizen, he was previously denied permission by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to play for Russia, because he had played for Kazakhstan as a 19-year-old in the 1994 World Championships. In 2005, he was granted permission to play for Russia in the IIHF World Championships, but he declined.

Evgeni had tried to gain the IIHF's permission to play for Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics, but failed as there were regulations in place forbidding players from representing two different countries.

He was finally allowed to play for Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, after being given an exemption by the IIHF, and was named to the Russian team for the 2008 World Championships.

During the 2008 World Championships, Evgeni posted back-to-back shut-outs before defeating Canada 5-4 in the Gold Medal game. Team Russia won the 2008 IIHF World Championships, earning Nabokov his first gold medal.

Evgeni was named as the starting goaltender for Team Russia in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, he led Russia to the quarterfinals against Canada. He allowed 6 goals and was then pulled in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov in a 7-3 defeat.

Evgeni represented Team Russia in the 2011 World championship in Slovakia.

He played for Kazakhstan in the 1994 World Championships and played for Russia in:

  • 2006 Winter Olympics
  • 2008 World Championships (gold medal)
  • 2010 Winter Olympics
  • 2011 World Championships

AccoladesEdit

  • Calder Memorial Trophy: 2001
  • NHL All-Rookie Team: 2001
  • NHL First All-Star Team: 2008
  • NHL All-Star Game Appearances: 2001 and 2008
  • Best Goaltender: 2008 IIHF World Championship
  • Vezina Trophy Finalist: 2008
  • Set an NHL record on Feb. 11, 2010 at DET when he won his 11th consecutive road game (November 21, 2009 vs. ANA to February 11 2010 vs. DET)
  • First Goaltender in NHL history to score a powerplay goal
  • Became only the second goalie to record 3 consecutive 40 win seasons on Mar. 27, 2010 vs. VAN

Personal LifeEdit

Evgeni briefly went by the name "John" upon beginning his career in North America in 1997, fearing that English speakers might have difficulty pronouncing his name. He later stated that "John" was just a nickname.

Evgeni married his wife, Tabitha in 2001; the couple met in San Jose while she was attending college and waitressing on the side. They have two children together: a daughter born in January 2004 and a son born on February 12, 2007.

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