Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/22/14

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 09: Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks walks through the tunnel on his way to the ice for their game against the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion on January 9, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was just last season that Evgeni Nabokov wouldn’t report to Long Island when the Islanders claimed him on waivers. Nearly a year later he has become a key component to the Islanders' recent hot stretch.

Nabokov got his chance to take the reins as the Isles' starting netminder after Al Montoya left the Dec. 20 game against the Winnipeg Jets. While Montoya did not start or play in another game until Jan. 24 against the Maple Leafs, Nabokov started in 15 of the next 17 games for after that, going 8-7 in that stretch. Overall, he’s posted a 2.38 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage this season.

To put into perspective how well Nabokov has played, during the week of Jan. 16 he did two things, one, which hadn’t been done since 2007, and the other hadn’t been done since 1997. On Tuesday of that week, Nabokov was the first Islanders goaltender to shut out the Washington Capitals since Tommy Salo did it on March 7,1997. Two days later he backstopped the Islanders to their first win in Philadelphia in five years.

After many a game you will hear Islanders head coach Jack Capuano utter something along the lines of, “Nabby played great tonight,” or "Nabby kept us in the game.” His teammates also are highly vocal at praising Nabokov’s play after games; 99 percent of the time the praise is warranted since Nabokov has made impeccable saves nearly every night.

But now that Montoya is back, it will be another guessing game of who will be the starter. And whether the Islanders will even keep Nabokov passed the trade deadline.

Since the begging of the season, the consensus opinion was that he would be traded before or at the trade deadline. Some fans still see his starts this season as “showcase” starts, but in reality he has truly earned them and earned the opportunity to stay longer than just up until the trade deadline.

With Rick Dipietro out at least until the end of the season, keeping Nabokov would sustain what has been a surprisingly solid goaltending tandem this season on Long Island. The Islanders, while still barely clinging to playoff hopes, still have some possibility to making a run at the postseason. Not to mention possibly re-signing Nabokov once the season is up and try to keep a solid tandem together.

For now the short-term questions are how many games will he start after the All-Star break and will he still be an Islander past the trade deadline? The longer-term question, should he still be on Long Island after Feb. 27, would he want to stay in an Isles jersey for another season?

He is certainly deserving of the chance to.

Photo credit: Getty Images
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

2014 World Series: Game Three live blog

Memorabilia dealer at center of Todd Gurley scandal fired

Colt McCoy on learning he was starting ‘it’s about f—ing time’

Four Questions for Game 3 of the World Series

Percy Harvin not planning on changing

Ricky Williams: People are let down when I turn down weed

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

Randall Cobb: Contract situation played role in slow start

Notre Dame WR faces discipline if he hooked up with porn star?

PGA president calls Ian Poulter ‘lil girl’ for Nick Faldo comments

Belichick declines to address Revis' reported tardiness

Texas mayor delays Halloween for Friday night football game

Big trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks, possibly more

Blazers, Seahawks owner Paul Allen gives $100M to fight ebola

'FIFA 15' glitch turns goalie into headless giant with no arms

WATCH: HBO releases trailer of 'The Offseason: Kevin Durant'

Broncos corner snags INT, then takes pregnant wife to hospital

Gurley dressed up as a pirate for Halloween, yelled, 'Free me'

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Nick Saban pens touching letter after high school coach dies

NBA Replay Center readies for its debut on Opening Night

WATCH: Former NBAer delivers vicious flying elbow Down Under

RNS looking to add agents with existing client rosters

Would World Series win make the Giants a dynasty?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

NBA Replay Center debuts next week

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

Reliving the worst college football game of the last 10 years

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Are sports leagues finally getting serious about domestic violence?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.