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Homer smartly plays it safe: Flyers have verbal agreement with Sharks on Nabokov

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The following comes from Tim Panaccio:

According to league sources, the Flyers have a verbal agreement in place with the San Jose Sharks to fork over a seventh-round pick next season if they can sign San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov before July 1, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Don Meehan, the agent who represents Nabokov, told earlier that his client’s no-trade clause is not an issue. San Jose obviously has given the Flyers permission to get a deal done and Meehan is willing to engage the Flyers ahead of July 1.

What does this mean? The Flyers essentially have the rights to speak with Evgeni Nabokov before July 1 without the risk it takes to physically acquire those rights, as they did with Dan Hamhuis. In other words, it's brilliant.

The Flyers get all the gains of an upper hand in negotiations, and if they're able to seal the deal in the next five days, they'll throw their seventh round pick to the Sharks in 2011.

Does this mean the Flyers will agree to terms him before July 1? Well, like we said last night, it seems likely that Nabokov would want to test out the open market. Why would he sign a deal for the Flyers when he doesn't know what the market will be for him?

And if it's true that he's hoping for something in the four or five million range, why would he take less from the Flyers, a team he has no connection to? It seems unlikely that Nabokov will sign here before July 1, but that doesn't mean Holmgren isn't smart for getting this agreement done. There's no risk involved.