The New York Islanders are among the NHL teams reported to be in contact with Emil Garipov, the KHL Gagarin Cup-winning goalie with Ak Bars Kazan.
It’s a loose link, but one we’re obliged to pass on (along with another, see below) since we previously examined the possibility of a reunion with Mikko Koskinen, who now appears to be headed to the Oilers like fellow 2009 draft classmate Anders Nilsson before him.
Both Isles links were reported by Latvia-based Euro hockey reporter Aivis Kalnins, who now says the supposed Koskinen agreement with the Islanders was a “misunderstanding” on Koskinen’s part.
Garipov is younger (26) and has been with Kazan for seven seasons putting up consistently stellar numbers while carrying the majority of starts the last three seasons. Kalnins called him “lights out the best player on the ice” during the playoffs, where he put up a .944 save percentage while backing Ak Bars to an upset win in the finals over CSKA.
But as with the Koskinen review, one is wise to be very cautious in translating KHL goaltending numbers to the NHL.
And the report calls the Islanders one of four teams in contact with Garipov, who will be a free agent and is apparently ready to make the jump. So: Unlikely, but something to follow.
Not Only, But Also
Separately, Kalnins tweeted that former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov wants to return to the NHL. There are several murmurs that this is the case, including one (Sport-Express, Russian) that indicates the Islanders are among five teams Voynov is interested in.
(This is where we should re-iterate that it’s silly season now, so players up for contract renewal in the KHL are wise to indicate interest in going to the NHL, just as NHLers hailing from the East are wise to indicate interest in returning home when it comes time to bid up their next NHL contract negotiations.)
It’s hard to see how a Voynov return would happen given the legal and NHL disciplinary issues that caused his exit after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a spouse. (I’ve put that last sentence in strictly legal terms. My own view is it sounds like the man got off okay after assaulting his wife, not for the first time. Mike Milbury on air called it “an unfortunate incident” by a “special player.”)
Cannot confirm other report out of KHL on #Isles interest in Slava Voynov, which (for obvious reasons) would be an unpopular choice. Seems #Isles are kicking lots of tires overseas; may be initial contact that goes no further. Many obstacles remain for a Voynov return to the NHL.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) April 23, 2018
The Islanders’ history would make it a shock if the interest is mutual here. So this connection sounds pretty dubious — at least in the sense that the player may be looking for nice places to land (the Rangers are also among the five teams, as are Florida, Montreal...and Winnipeg). I don’t really see a path back to the NHL for Voynov.
But if came to be, and it was with the Islanders, well...no. Just no.
UPDATE: Indeed. Arthur Staple of The Athletic confirms there is no “there” there, at least not on the Islanders’ part in terms of interest with Voynov: