Nabokov clears waivers, faces decision

Evgeni Nabokov played 11 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Julio Cortez/AP)

At 39 years of age, Evgeni Nabokov may have played his final NHL game.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s veteran goaltender cleared waivers at noon Monday, as the club recalled Andrei Vasilevskiy from AHL Syracuse to supplant Nabokov as Ben Bishop’s backup.

Nabokov signed a one-year contract with Tampa Bay in the summer, but has failed to impress.

In 11 games, the Russian is 3-6-2 with a 3.15 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage. His last start came on Jan. 12 at Philadelphia; he gave up four goals on 13 shots.

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Nobokov, who will make $1.55 million this season, could decide to retire or attempt to battle back in the minors.

“He’s a real professional,” Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said via release. “He’s a really good guy, really liked by the players and the coaches. It’s not an easy decision to make… but, ultimately, we feel this is the right move.”

In 14 seasons, Nabokov has a 353-227-29-71 record with a lifetime .911 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average. His best year was in 2007-08, when he posted a 46-21-8 record with six shutouts and 2.14 GAA with the San Jose Sharks.

Not selected until the 219th pick of the 1994 draft (by San Jose), Nabokov won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2001. He made two All-star Game appearances (2001, 2008) and represented Russia in two Olympic Games (2006, 2010).

Nabokov is also the the first NHL goaltender to score a power-play goal, which he did on March 10, 2002:

Vasilevskiy, a 2012 first-rounder (19th overall), has appeared in four games with Tampa Bay this season, going 3-1 with a 1.76 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

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