"The good 'ol days"

For those of you unfamiliar with the saga, a quick recap: Alexander Radulov was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2004, 15th overall.

He signed a three-year entry-level deal with Preds after his years in the QMJHL (152 points in his final season there), started in the AHL with Milwaukee in 06-07, and got called up after compiling 18 points in 11 games. He put up 37 points the rest of that season with Nashville (64 games), and went on to put up 58 in his sophomore season.

He still had a year left on that entry-level deal, and looked poised to seriously breakout….when he signed a three-year deal in Russia.

Thus, in order to come back to play in North America, he’d have to play out the third year of his entry-level deal with the Predators.

Well, his three-year term in Russia has come and gone, his team in Russia has been eliminated from playoffs, and word out of Russia is that he’s contemplating a return to the NHL (Kevin Allen of USA Today says ”…there have been Russian news reports suggesting Radulov is considering a return to North America”).

If he were to come back to North America now, it would be legal, it would count as his final year, and this summer he could negotiate a much, much larger contract. If he wants to come back but waits until next season, he’d have to play the whole year for the $1 million he’s owed.

Radulov has led the KHL in scoring in back-to-back years, so I can’t believe he’d be willing to play out a season in his prime (he’s now 26) for a mere million scoots.

These factors make it look likely that he could return this season….so what if he did?

If I’ve had a knock on the Predators year-in, year-out, it’s that they consistently lack a game-breaking scorer. They need that dynamic play-maker to break open tight games at the pivotal moments if they hope to seriously contend. They could always defend, sure, but one-dimensional teams rarely get it done.

If Radulov returns, there’s not a team in the West you could claim to be head and shoulders above Nashville. There’s always competition, and luck matters, but finally, I would be able to seriously look at their roster and imagine them lifting the Stanley Cup.

The Predators have made it clear they won’t pursue him any longer (it wasn’t a pretty break-up) - if he wants to come back, he has to come to them first.

Well, the situation is perfect and the time is right. It sounds like there may be news from Russia saying he’s considering making the turn. This could be the pivotal event of the 2011-2012 season.

If he comes back, wouldn’t you consider the Predators one of the Stanley Cup favourites heading into playoffs?

Comments (16)

  1. a) Wouldn’t he have to clear waivers?
    b) Wouldn’t he be ineligible to play in the post-season? (like Turco?)

    Also, I know I wouldn’t want to play Nashville as is.

  2. Nope. He wouldn’t have to clear waivers because he was under contract prior to the trade deadline, and he’d be eligible for the same reason.

    • Well you know your stuff, but I have a tough time believing there isn’t a legal problem. Does not a three-year lapse make this an inactive contract? Of course Nashville retains his rights, but isn’t the specific contract null if he doesn’t report? Even if there isn’t a by-law in the way, would it not be likely that there would be a legal challenge from another team?

      • Just click the Kevin Allen link, he explains it better than me. He does mention the NHLPA would likely give it a look, so maybe that would kill it. Otherwise it looks legit.

        • Ugh. A scary thought for any Western team. No certainty that chemistry could be found so quickly, or that the bad blood wouldn’t sour things, but wow, scary.

  3. Did you even read the article?

  4. He probably wouldn’t be good for team chemistry.

  5. I think you’re slightly overstating things by claiming that adding a single player, currently unproven in the nhl, would put a mid-level (playoff-wise) team over and above the top teams in either conference. Sure, Radulov is a skilled player who could probably break open a few games, but to claim that he would all of a sudden elevate nashville above vancouver, detroit, et al is a bit hyperbolic to my ear, especially considering he hasn’t played a game in the nhl in 3 years.

    • I don’t. They have the fourth most points in the Western Conference, and they wouldn’t be just adding Radulov. They also just picked up Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad a week ago for depth, so we haven’t see how good they can be. With their shut-down trio (Suter/Weber/Rinne), I think an offensive force could be the catalyst.

      And yes, Radulov is proven. 60 points in your second NHL season is pretty good proof, not to mention outscoring the second highest scorer in Russia by 15 points in ’10-’11. It’d be a big addition.

    • I don’t he would necessarily elevate Nashville above the big teams you mentioned but he’d certainly give them a scoring boost. Nashville already pretty much score by committee, he’d likely boost them a bit. Hell, even if defences focus on him there are others to take advantage.

      As Justin just commented, he may not have been in the NHL recently but he’s not merely been playing in the KHL, you could argue he’s been dominating it.

  6. http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/1/23/1942951/the-predators-and-alexander-radulov-what-might-have-been

    Check this link out. It’s a little old but Zona makes it pretty clear that Radulov would have likely lit it up had he stayed in the NHL with some proposed numbers based on Desjardin’s NHL Equivalencies. If he comes back and adapts relatively quickly he could be special.

  7. Bourne’s dead on with his assessment. Radulov is precisely the ONE piec missing in Nashville. I’d argue that Radulov is a top 5 talent worldwide. His skill set is surpassed certainly only by Crosby, Malkin, and maybe Ovechkin. He has everything: shot, size, hands, off awareness, nasty. He’s filthy. Adding him to a Preds team that already matches up well with every team makes them, IMO, the team to beat in he Western Conference. IF Radulov comes back, I might have to throw some loot down on the Predators(bc we know Vegas won’t adjust odds properly ;) )

  8. The Preds are 9th in goals for and goals against. 2nd in the league on the PP and 13th (though trending upward) on the PK. Those look like the stats of a true contender. They have a goalie who is capable of stealing as many as 5 or 6 games in a cup run. I have to believe that they are in the discussion.

    The Preds did very well against Vancouver and STL this year (2 regulation wins and SO loss against VAN; 2 ROW against STL and 2-1 in the shootout against them.) They have struggles against Detroit (1-3) but certainly have a chance to rectify that.

    Maybe I am an apologist given my season ticket holder status, but I have watched this team struggle with puck possession for years and this years team seems to finally assembled a group of forwards who can possess the puck enough to really let 6/20/35 dominate (And Hal Gill/Roman Josi have not hurt things either).

    The Preds don’t need Rads. I love to have him, but the Preds are already there.

    • Is there a reason you decided to leave out the 5-1 loss to the Canucks? Both teams won 2 games with the aggregate 15-13 Nucks.

  9. Boy Alex must be watching some fantasy hockey to call the Preds a mid level team. Fifth most points in ALL of hockey, one of the best power plays, arguably the best goalie and maybe the best D pair join. 9th in goals… do i need to go on. The only thing I hate more than uneducated hockey fans in print are the yo yo’s at the rink that are yelling “SHOOT” all the time on the power play to a team that scores more than any other on the PP. A small diversion I know but it is a pet peeve of mine:) Sorry if I ranted a bit!!

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