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San Jose Sharks could lose Nolan Schaefer in goalie logjam

Nolan Schaefer said he was placed on waivers Thursday after signing a one-year contract with the Sharks, who had hoped to trade Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala before their opener against the St. Louis Blues.

Instead, both Nabokov and Toskala were still in uniform - and Schaefer, who had hoped to be the Sharks' backup goalie this season, was in the Shark Tank press box wondering whether he was enjoying his last night in San Jose.

Any team could claim Schaefer, who won his first five starts for San Jose last season in limited duty, before Friday morning. If nobody picks him up, Schaefer would be assigned to the Sharks' top minor-league affiliate in Worcester - but that seems unlikely.

"I really don't know what's going to happen now," said Schaefer, who spent the last three seasons in the minors. "Players don't find out until the morning (after going on waivers), so I don't know."

The Sharks didn't officially announce putting Schaefer on waivers, and general manager Doug Wilson couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

San Jose's excellent work in developing goaltenders again has produced a glut at the NHL level. Nabokov, their starter since the 2000-01 season who fought off a challenge from Miikka Kiprusoff three years ago, lost his job down the stretch last spring to Toskala, his longtime backup.

Toskala led the Sharks to the Western Conference's fifth-best record and a trip to the Western Conference semifinals with two months of stellar play, including seven straight victories to close the regular season. The Sharks earned a point in 27 of his final 29 starts.

Both goalies signed contract extensions in February, shortly before Toskala took over. Nabokov will make US$5 million this season, while Toskala is due just $1.375 million.

Early in the summer, Wilson said he didn't expect both veterans to be with the club next season - but the Sharks couldn't find a suitable trade for either goalie during the summer and training camp.

San Jose was able to postpone its decision because Schaefer was an unsigned, restricted free agent during training camp.

Toskala, who outplayed Nabokov in the pre-season, started in goal against the Blues, while Nabokov is expected to play against the New York Islanders on Saturday night. Coach Ron Wilson has said he hopes one goalie will earn the starting job soon, but doesn't mind rotating both goalies.



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