Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/28/14

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

Texas A&M Aggies bench Kenny Hill for freshman Kyle Allen

Josh Smith's reaction to Faried's criticism: 'He's a clown'

Magic, Mia Hamm among owners of new MLS franchise

Michael Vick broke teammate’s finger with bullet pass

Wes Welker: 'I feel like the weak link' in Broncos' loaded offense

Greg Hardy will not play this season after trial postponement

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chip Kelly on not weighing in on injuries: ‘I’m not Dr. Miyagi’

Saints vs Panthers: preview and prediction

Kevin Youkilis retires after 10 seasons in MLB

Ricky Williams says he retired due to poor quarterback play

Judge rejects request to move Aaron Hernandez murder trial

Jason Garrett optimistic that Tony Romo can play Sunday

WATCH: Russell Westbrook gets into it with heckling fan

PHOTO: The best sports-themed Halloween costume this year

WATCH: Jameis Winston forces fumble after throwing INT

Bruce Pearl dressed up as fellow Auburn coach Gus Mazhahn

WATCH: Jimmy Graham head-butts bench

Seahawks host football team from H.S. shocked by shooting

WATCH: Cavs intro in LeBron James’ first game back was wild

Did latest World Series win establish Giants as a dynasty?

Cavaliers give fans instructions on how to do 'Chalk Toss'

Explaining the Penguins loyalty to Marc-Andre Fleury

WATCH: Man obliterates house after Cowboys MNF loss

WATCH: Entire history of Nike in just under three minutes

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!

Welker feels like 'weak link' in offense

Cavs intro for LeBron was wild

Greg Hardy won't play this season

Michael Jordan rips Obama's golf game

Torii Hunter in radio ad opposing gay marriage

Curt Schilling praises Bumgarner

GALLERY: Best of sports pumpkins

Top storyline for each Week 9 game

Williams' response to criticism

WATCH: Chevy guy totally bombs

Bumgarner pitches Giants to title

Report: Cubs to hire Maddon as manager

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.