Sharks Alumni: Nabokov’s impact on San Jose

The 45-year old Russian was dominant for San Jose during his career and retired as one of the best goalies to play in the 21st century.

The Sharks established themselves as a perennial playoff team from 2000-2010. Every single season of that stretch, Evgeni Nabokov served as the go-to guy in net.

From an overall team standpoint, team teal only missed the playoffs one time during the Nabokov-era. San Jose finished first in the pacific division five times and second in the division three times.

In the playoffs, the Sharks won eight separate series and appeared in the Western Conference Final twice.

His individual statistics are just as impressive. He had a 0.915 SV% in his rookie season, along with a 2.17 GAA, six shutouts, and a 32-21-7 record, culminating in being awarded the Calder Trophy.

He posted a 0.918 SV%  with a 37-24-5 record in his second season and had his first career playoff series victory beating the Coyotes in five games. The following round, the Sharks fell to the Avalanche in seven games.

Moving into the 2002-2003 season, he still had above a 0.900 SV% but outside of that had a notably down year. This was the only year where the Sharks missed the playoffs in the Nabokov era.

The next season, the Sharks and the then-28-year-old goalie marched to the team’s first Conference Final appearance. Defeating the Blues in five games and the Avalanche in six games. However, in their third series, they were upset by the Calgary Flames in six games.

For the next three years in San Jose, the team stayed competitive, but Nabokov’s performance declined.

By 2007-2008 Nabokov returned to elite form. He had a career-high 46 wins, with a 0.910 SV% and 2.14 GAA. He made the all-star game and finished second in Vezina Trophy voting, barely losing to the great Martin Brodeur by just seven votes.

In the first round of the 2008 post-season, the Sharks got vengeance on the Flames for the 2004 WCF, defeating the division rival in a seven-game series. The following round, team teal lost to the Stars in six-games.

His second to last season, he once again had a 0.910 SV% and had seven separate shutouts. The Sharks won the 2008-2009 Presidents Trophy for the only time in franchise history. But that regular-season success did not translate in the 2009 playoffs. The team was upset in the first round by one of its biggest rivals, the Anaheim Ducks.

His last season in teal was a memorable one. He had a career-high 0.922 SV% with a 2.43 GAA and a 44-16-10 record. The Sharks had another tremendous regular season, finishing first in the division for the second straight year.

During the 2010 post-season, San Jose bounced the Avalanche in the first round. In the following series, they defeated the two-time defending conference champion Red Wings in just five games. However, cup dreams slipped away as the Blackhawks swept team teal in the Western Conference Final.

After that year, Doug Wilson opted not to re-sign him due to salary cap reasons. He eventually moved on to the Islanders, where he played for three seasons.

Over 10 seasons, Nabokov established himself as the best goalie in Sharks history, and it is not even close. His San Jose career averages include 0.912 SV%, 2.39 GAA, a record of 293-178-66, and 50 total shutouts. He remains with the Sharks to this day as an assistant coach.