The Islanders nabbed Nabokov two days after the 35-year-old goalie signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings. He had spent this season with SKA St. Petersburg of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, and according to the collective bargaining agreement, any player who starts the season with a team overseas must clear waivers first.
Nabokov had been against joining the Islanders from the start.
"I think I'm going to stay home for now, I'm sticking with my decision," Nabokov told ESPN.com from his home in San Jose, Calif. "It's nothing against the Islanders and their organization. It's nothing to do with that. It's just that I'm at the point in my career where I want to help a team win in the playoffs. I don't see how I could help the Islanders or what I could do for them. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. And I hope they understand that."
With Nabokov choosing not to report, the Islanders had two choices: suspend the player or put him back on waivers.
New York owns Nabokov's rights and could keep him out of the NHL for all of next season should Nabokov not report.
The Islanders had little to say about Nabokov after a 1-0 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
"I'm just a coach -- we try to prepare our team to win the game. That's for our general manager, obviously, to make the decisions that he makes," coach Jack Capuano said.
New York entered Tuesday with the third-worst goals-against average (3.20) in the league.
"I don't know what will happen with that situation, but it's not something we're worried about," rookie defenseman Dylan Reese said. "We're worried about getting wins right now, and if he comes, he comes and if he doesn't, he doesn't."
Rookie goalie Kevin Poulin -- who likely would have been sent back down to the American Hockey League had Nabokov reported -- was strong Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
"He didn't come," Poulin said of Nabokov, "so too bad for him."
Nabokov was 8-8-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage in 22 games with St. Petersburg. He became a free agent in December after he was released by the KHL club in the first season of a four-year deal, citing family reasons.
Last season with San Jose, Nabokov went 44-16-10 with a 2.43 GAA and helped the Sharks reach the Western Conference finals against eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.