Evgeni Nabokov

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Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni Nabokov - Tampa Bay Lightning.jpg
Nabokov with the Tampa Bay Lightning in December 2014
Born (1975-07-25) July 25, 1975 (age 39)
Ust-Kamenogorsk, USSR
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 202 lb (92 kg; 14 st 6 lb)
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
NHL team
Former teams
Tampa Bay Lightning
San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders
Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
Dynamo Moscow
Metallurg Magnitogorsk
SKA Saint Petersburg
National team  Kazakhstan 
NHL Draft 219th overall, 1994
San Jose Sharks
Playing career 1995–present

Yevgeni Viktorovich Nabokov (Russian: Евге́ний Ви́кторович Набо́ков; born July 25, 1975) is a Kazakhstani-Russian professional ice hockey goaltender who is currently playing with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Nabokov was selected by San Jose in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft (9th round, 219th overall). When he started playing in North America, he went by John, rather than Evgeni, fearing that English speakers would have a hard time pronouncing his name.[1][2] However, Nabokov stated it was just a nickname,[3] and this change did not last.

In his first nine seasons in the NHL, all with San Jose, Nabokov became the Sharks leader in nearly every goaltending category, including games played, wins, and shutouts.[4]

Playing career[edit]

Russia and minor league[edit]

San Jose head scout Tim Burke saw Nabokov on an advertisement during his trip to Russia while Burke went to scout another player.[2] Taken late in the ninth round, the Sharks had never seen him play; rather, they were more interested in the skill of Nabokov's father, a professional goaltender who played 18 years in Kazakhstan. He was called the "Russian Wall" by his peers.[5]

San Jose Sharks[edit]

Nabokov with the San Jose Sharks in 2008

After a few years in the American Hockey League (AHL), Nabokov 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, Nabokov started in his first NHL game, playing against the Colorado Avalanche and famed goalie Patrick Roy. Impressively, Nabokov stopped all 39 shots he faced in a 0-0 tie. In his first three appearances, Nabokov stopped all but one of his first 58 shots,[6] and the one goal he allowed was when Stéphane Matteau put the puck into an empty net while Nabokov was skating to the bench on a delayed penalty.

In the second game of the 2000–01 NHL season, Shields hurt his ankle, leaving San Jose without a number one goalie. Instead of giving the job to the very well known Miikka Kiprusoff, who the Sharks brass considered the "goalie of the future," they left Kiprusoff in the AHL so he could get more experience, and gave the starting position to Nabokov, and he ran away with it, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the Rookie of the Year. Also, he played in the 2001 All-star game and took San Jose to the playoffs.

On March 10, 2002, he became the first netminder in NHL history to score a powerplay goal, doing so against the Vancouver Canucks.[7]

During the 2003 season, Nabokov held out, refusing to sign San Jose's proposed contract. After making only US$1 million for two years of stellar play, he wanted much more. He only missed five games before the Sharks met his demands, signing him to a two-year contract.[8] When he finally signed a contract, he struggled to regain his form. Later, he remarked that holding out was extremely unsportsmanlike, and that he would never do it again. He 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.

Nabokov 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. 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 during the 2005–06 season, Nabokov was signed to a four-year contract extension worth roughly $21.5 million. The contract had a no-trade clause that was activated on the condition that San Jose made the playoffs.

Nabokov is known for his excellent positioning and his ability to challenge shooters, but has been hampered by a groin injury. During the 2006–07 NHL season, Nabokov split the starting goaltending duties with Toskala. In the Sharks 82 games Nabokov started 49.[9] On February 1, 2007, Nabokov left a game against the Dallas Stars early after injuring his groin.[10] Nabokov 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, Nabokov 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. Nabokov 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 Jágr of the New York Rangers.[11] In addition to that honor, Nabokov 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. Nabokov holds the franchise-record for having won this award nine times.[12]

Nabokov played in his second NHL All-Star Game on January 27, 2008. He stopped all eight shots that came at him in the second period, making it the first time since 2002 that a goalie has played a period where no goals were scored. The last goaltender to do so was fellow Russian goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Nabokov secured the scoreless period when he blocked both of Ilya Kovalchuk’s shots in the last minute of the second period.[13] On May 4, during game six of the Western Conference Semi-Finals of the 2008 NHL Playoffs, Nabokov made what has been called one of the best glove saves in decades, when he robbed Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars of a goal by sliding over from the other side of the post and gloved 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, went to 4th overtime and is now the 8th longest game in NHL history.

Nabokov recorded 41 wins for the Sharks during the 2008–09 NHL season as the Sharks clinched first overall in the Western Conference and the League. Despite this, the Sharks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the 8th seed Anaheim Ducks, marking just the fourth time that a number 8 seed defeated a number 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs.

On October 17, 2009, Nabokov played in his 500th career game — all with San Jose — and stopped 31 shots in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. On February 11, 2010, Nabokov stopped a career-high 50 shots en route to a 3-2 shootout victory against the Detroit Red Wings. This was also Nabokov's 11th consecutive road victory, a new NHL record.

On June 22, 2010, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson confirmed that Nabokov would not be returning to San Jose as a consequence of the NHL's salary cap. The decision received mixed reviews from Sharks fans as Nabokov 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. Unfortunately, Nabokov has also taken heat for being at the center of San Jose's playoff failures and with tough decisions looming in the form of major free agents Marleau and Joe Pavelski, Wilson felt that keeping Nabokov was less of a priority in a cap era.

SKA Saint Petersburg[edit]

Following the end of the 2009-10 season Nabokov's 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, and on July 7 it was reported that he had signed a $24 million contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, early reports varied on the length of the contract between 4 or 6 years.[14][15] Because of "family circumstances" on December 13, 2010, his contract with SKA St. Petersburg was terminated by mutual consent.

New York Islanders[edit]

Nabakov with the New York Islanders in October 2013
Nabokov with the New York Islanders during the 2013 playoffs

On January 20, 2011, TSN reported that Nabokov would be signed by the Detroit Red Wings to fill void left by the Red Wings' back-up goaltender Chris Osgood, who announced his retirement after the 2010–2011 season. Joey MacDonald, who was called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL to replace Osgood, ended up starting several games when starting goaltender Jimmy Howard was injured with a bruised knee. Nabokov was eventually signed by the Red Wings. Despite signing with the Wings, Nabokov had to clear waivers to return to the NHL, and was claimed on waivers by the New York Islanders on January 22. Reports then surfaced that Nabokov was unhappy with this most recent development and he refused to report to the Islanders, having wanted to play for Detroit.[16] On January 25, the Islanders announced that they had suspended Nabokov for the remainder of the 2010–11 NHL season because of his failure to report to Long Island.

The Islanders gave Nabokov permission to play at the IIHF World Championships on the condition that he would not contest them tolling (extending) his contract through the 2011–12 season for his failure to report to the team.[17]

In August 2011, Nabokov stated that he would in fact be reporting to the Islanders training camp. He played for the Islanders the entirety of the 2011–12 season, wearing #20, and eventually took over the starting job. Nabokov got his first win with the Islanders on October 15, 2011, against the New York Rangers. On January 14, 2012, Nabokov recorded his 300th career win against the Buffalo Sabres. He is the 26th goaltender to reach this milestone. On March 21, 2012 he signed a one year, $2.75 million contract extension to remain with the Islanders another year. He re-signed for the 2013-2014 season on a one-year $3.25 million contract.[18]

Tampa Bay Lightning[edit]

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

International career[edit]

Evgeni Nabokov
Nabokov at the 2010 Winter Olympics
Medal record
Competitor for  Russia and  Kazakhstan
Men's ice hockey
World Championships
Gold 2008 Russia Ice hockey

While he 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, Nabokov was granted permission to play for Russia in the IIHF World Championships, but declined. Nabokov 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.[19] He was finally allowed to play for Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, after being given an exemption by the IIHF,[20] and was named to the Russian team for the 2008 World Championships.[21] During the 2008 World Championships he 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.

He 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. Nabokov allowed 6 goals and was then pulled in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov in a 7-3 defeat.

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

Played for Kazakhstan in:

Played for Russia in:

Awards and achievements[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Nabokov met his wife, Tabitha, in San Jose while she was attending college and waitressing on the side. They were married in 2001. They have a daughter Emma, born in January 2004, and a son Andre John, born on February 12, 2007.[22]

Career statistics[edit]

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
NHL totals 686 350 221 29 55 39,598 1601 59 2.43 .912


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


  1. ^ San Jose Sharks transactions 1997-2003
  2. ^ a b McKeon, Ross (2007). "Nabokov embraces a clean sheet of ice". NHL.com. Retrieved 2008-01-09. [dead link]
  3. ^ Chesnokov, Dmitry. "Puck Daddy chats with Evgeni Nabokov about Sharks' Cup chances, awards snubs and (allegedly) kicking Corey Perry". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  4. ^ 2007-08 San Jose Sharks Organization Guide, pgs. 151-53
  5. ^ Wigge, Larry (2008). "Ironman Nabokov overcomes adversity to succeed". NHL.com. Retrieved 2008-01-09. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Evgeni Nabokov game log 1999–2000". Yahoo.com. 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  7. ^ Smith, Sean (27 October 2013). "The goalie shoots ... and scores?". Boston Globe. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  8. ^ CBC.ca (October 27, 2002). "Sharks ink holdout Evgeni Nabokov". CBC.ca. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  9. ^ "Evgeni Nabokov career Stats". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  10. ^ Chi, Victor (February 2, 2007). "Stars align against Sharks in 4-2 win". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. 
  11. ^ sharks.nhl.com (December 31, 2007). Nabokov, Ovechkin and Jagr Named NHL 'Three Stars' of the Week. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  12. ^ sharks.nhl.com (January 4, 2008). Nabokov Named Seagate Player Of The Month. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  13. ^ John Kreiser (January 27, 2008). Nabokov just perfect in All-Star outing. Retrieved on January 27, 2008.
  14. ^ "Sharks Lose Nabokov to Russian League Club". The New York Times. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  15. ^ "Reports: Nabokov to Russia". NHL.com. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  16. ^ "Nabokov suspended by Islanders". The Sports Network. 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  17. ^ "Nabokov allowed to play at the World Championships". newpepper.su. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  18. ^ Wyshynski, Greg (July 5, 2013). "Ray Emery back to Flyers; Evgeni Nabokov re-signs with Islanders". Yahoo!. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  19. ^ BBC.com (February 1, 2002). "Nabokov dream crushed". BBC.com. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (2002). "Forsberg missing ingredient for Sweden". MSNBC.com. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  21. ^ "Team Roster — Russia". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  22. ^ "Nabokov - Personal - The Mask Between the Pipes". Retrieved 14 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Scott Gomez
Winner of the Calder Trophy
Succeeded by
Dany Heatley