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Cheechoo & Nabokov sign long term deals
GM Wilson works to avoid distractions
2/7/06 - By Mike Lee

The Sharks finally got a dose of good news this week, albeit off the ice. The club announced that they have resigned forward Jonathan Cheechoo to a five-year extension and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a four year deal. The proactive contract activity means the Sharks won't have to deal with any negotiations heading into training camp next Fall.

Nabokov was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and they made no bones about the fact that think he's the netminder that will take them to the next level. TSN reported that his deal was worth $21.5 million, or $5.125 per season over the next four years.

Cheechoo, the Sharks leading goal scorer, has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat this season, so the Sharks were eager to signed to a long term deal. His contract is reportedly in the $15 million range.

"We're very pleased that both players made the commitment to stay here in San Jose and that they want to be here," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "Nabby is one of the top goaltenders in the league and Cheech continues to improve every year as one of the game's best goal scorers. We are very happy to get them signed long term."

San Jose wouldn't have lost Cheechoo, who would have become a restricted free agent, but Wilson has done everything in his power to avoid contract distractions going into camp since he assumed the GM role back in 2003.

"I think they've shown a lot of confidence in me and I'm confident in the team," Cheechoo said. "It's pretty exciting. When they went out and got Joe Thornton, it showed they wanted to win."

Nabokov has struggled this season, but still stands as the Sharks franchise leader in almost every goaltending category. Wilson is banking on a return to form that helped the Sharks capture division crowns in the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons.

"I wanted to be here and I think we have a great chance to win," said Nabokov, who will play for Russia in the Olympics later this month. "We have a great team and it will just take some extra hard work to get where we want to be. We will get there and I want to be part of it."

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