Nalimov, 22, has posted a 3.65 goals-against average and .864 save percentage in five games this season for Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL. In March, he signed a new deal with Admiral.
The Russian goaltender joining the team’s camp brings the roster back to five netminders: Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson. The Hawks released former Michigan State standout Jake Hildebrand following Friday’s game in Pittsburgh.
Most players who turn 20 by Sept. 15 of their draft year need to be signed within two years of being drafted, but those rules do not apply to Russian players. In 2013, the NHL signed player transfer agreements with almost every prominent hockey federation in Europe that outlined rules for how the league would handle things like draft rights. However, the KHL has refused to sign that agreement and instead has a different one with the NHL that has a different set of rules.
As a result, the draft rights of Nalimov -- like other Russians playing in the KHL -- won't elapse as long as he continues playing there and there are no changes in the relationship between the NHL and KHL. It's a complicated situation, to be sure, and one that could change in the future. For now, however, Nalimov remains Chicago's property if he ever wants to make the NHL leap.
Crawford and Darling are locks at the NHL level, while Carruth and Johansson figure to battle for the No. 1 job for the Hawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford. Carruth and Johansson split time in Friday’s game. If Nalimov were to make to move across the Pacific, he’d likely compete with Johansson for the top spot, while Carruth would move down to the No. 3 spot or to the starting role for ECHL Indianapolis once again.