Evgeni Nabokov dealt to San Jose, expected to retire as a Shark

Evgeni Nabokov dealt to San Jose, expected to retire as a Shark

Evgeni Nabokov will end his NHL career the way it began: as a San Jose Shark.

On Monday, the Sharks announced they had acquired the 39-year old netminder from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for “future considerations.” An announcement on Nabokov’s future will be made Wednesday, where it’s expected he’ll retire.

Nabokov signed a one-year deal with the Lightning over the summer to provide a veteran presence behind Ben Bishop. But things didn’t work out after he started nine games and posted a 3-6-2 record, along with a .901 even strength save percentage.

With Andrei Vasilevskiy waiting in the wings and getting a taste with five starts earlier this season, the writing was on the wall for Nabokov, and last week he was placed on waivers.

While Nabokov’s final stops in the NHL landed him on Long Island and Tampa, the Sharks will be the team he’s most identified with.

Sharks scout Tim Burke spotted Nabokov while on a trip to watch another player. The team would then draft the netminder 219th overall in 1994 and allow him to develop in the AHL until he made his NHL debut on Jan. 1, 2000. From there, he became a workhorse, averaging 61 games a year during his nine full-time seasons in San Jose, including 77 appearances in 2007-08.

Nabokov finishes his career with 353 wins in the NHL, a Calder Trophy, a World Championships gold medal, two All-Star and Olympic appearances, and is part of the exclusive club of goaltenders who have scored a goal. Here he is netting one on the power play in 2002:

He also gets a vote for one of the best playoff saves ever after this robbery of Brad Richards in 2008:

Nabokov’s pending retirement also means that Zdeno Chara, Dan Boyle and Scott Hannan are the remainining active NHLers who have played for the long-defunct Kentucky Thoroughblades of the AHL.

Nabokov long credited his success to the influence of the late Warren Strelow, San Jose's former goaltending coach.

"I was with him when I had no language going on, nothing," Nabokov told Ross McKeon in 2007. "He was there, he was so patient with me, too. He always would explain stuff. That's why he will always be so special. He would always tell me to stop thinking.

"And that's what it always comes down to. Just go and play well. Stop making things complicated."