The Islanders have announced the recall of G Anders Nilsson (11 GP; 3-6-1; 3.57 GAA; .880 SV%; AHL) from Bridgeport to replace Evgeni Nabokov (14 GP; 5-5-3; 3.30 GAA; .892 SV%) who is out at least a month with a groin issue sustained in this weekend’s Detroit game. in the immediate “how this effects the club” it gives Kevin Poulin (8 GP; 3-5-0; 2.52 GAA; .902 SV%) the undisputed number one chair at goaltending, and shows yet another hole the Islanders have to fill if Nabokov is out long term. Poulin has been great for the Islanders and while his W-L record doesn’t support it, he’s the Isles best chance to win in the pipes right now. Nabokov has been pedestrian to down right bad prior to his injury racking up a sub-.890 Save Percentage and allowing at least 3 goals a game at any given time. His injury hurts and his lost voice in the dressing room is also a detriment, as Nabby is one of the most veteran guys on the team.
Focussing now on Anders Nilsson, my take, and the take of others on twitter, is that this has to be a short term thing for Anders to have been called up as he hasn’t been good at Bridgeport and just sitting on an NHL bench for a month probably isn’t going to help him in the immediate future. If the Islanders are dead set on running Poulin out almost every single game for a month, and giving him maybe 2 games off then there’s no difference between Anders Nilsson and Ken Reiter (5 GP, 1-3-0; 3.11 GAA; .883 SV%; AHL) taking the backup chair. “But Matt, Reiter’s numbers are just as terrible and he was an ECHL lifer prior to last year;” well, yes and no, he wasn’t an ECHL lifer, but he was grabbed from Fort Wayne and before that was at Minnesota-Duluth; but if you’re not going to play someone, he’s the guy you not play so that you hope Nilsson can get himself back together or find his way back to Europe as I have a feeling the Islanders will qualify him, but lose him to Lulea or another SEL team right now anyway. Nilsson’s the higher ceiling guy, but he’s not ready for the NHL.
If Nabokov misses more than a month, the Islanders need to go out and get a backup goalie. Where that goalie comes from, I don’t know. Fans are throwing out the name Jose Theodore, and he appears to be a legit free agent, so if he can be coaxed into it, he’d be a nice pick up. The best trading partner would likely be the Ducks as they have more goalies than you can shake a stick at, but I doubt they’ll move one for cheap; this is a team that gave up two forwards for an AHL defenseman. If I had my druthers I’d offer Columbus a young prospect in the vein of Mike Halmo and see if that gets us Curtis McElhenny, because he’s been phenomenal behind Sergei Bobrovsky; but that won’t happen. Is there a goalie out there, not really, and Poulin’s the best bet right now anyway.
I still feel Anders being up isn’t a gel to him or the team as he needs to be taking as many reps in Bridgeport as possible for the Islanders to determine what they have in him, seeing as he’s ending his Entry Level deal, the Isles would be better served getting him 8 starts this month versus maybe one or two, and judging him more on if he’s ready than “can he play in relief?” I like Anders Nilsson, I don’t like this situation, and that it took the Isles all day yesterday to look for an alternative, is at least indicative that they don’t want to put Nilsson in this situation if they don’t have to. Next few weeks will be interesting indeed.