Sharks give Flyers permission to negotiate with Nabokov

Evgeni Nabokov had a .922 save percentage and three shutouts with the San Jose Sharks last season. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

LOS ANGELES -- After the names of all 210 prospects were called at the Staples Center in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers still had one move left to make.

According to a source, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was given permission to negotiate a deal with San Jose's soon-to-be free agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

Holmgren had an initial discussion with Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, of Newport Sports Group, on Friday evening during the first round of the draft.

San Jose general manager Doug Wilson told the Daily News on Friday that the Sharks already informed Nabokov, who posted 40 wins in each of the last four seasons, that they would be heading in a different direction come July 1.

When contacted late Saturday, Wilson would not confirm or deny any such deal was in place.

"My policy has always been consistent in that any conversation I have with another GM is kept in confidence," Wilson told the Daily News.

Nabokov earned $6 million last season but turns 35 next month and is eligible for a 35-and-over incentive-laden contract that could have a low cap number. Meehan and Holmgren negotiated a similar deal for Chris Pronger last summer, which will take effect for this upcoming season.

If the Flyers and Nabokov do reach a deal before July 1, when he would be free game for all 28 other teams, the Flyers would be required to send a compensatory draft pick to the Sharks in exchange.

If the Flyers and Nabokov do not strike a deal, no pick or money would exchange hands. The Flyers essentially have a little risk, high reward early crack at a goaltender who would demand a lot of attention come July 1.

The Flyers were in a similar situation with soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent Dan Hamhuis last week but were unable to reach a deal and Holmgren traded his rights to Pittsburgh for a 2011 third round pick.

Keep it locked on Frequent Flyers as this story develops.