Here’s what I think I know about Alexander Radulov: He’s a very talented hockey player, he’s an energic, likable guy, and he’s not the most decisive gentleman on the planet. (I’m also aware of the fact that he wears his helmet so high on his head he looks like Carmen Miranda.)
The NHL and the KHL play Betty and Veronica to his Archie, and the guy just can’t seem to figure out which one to commit to. He says he wants to play in “The best League in the world” (referring to the NHL), but after his KHL rights recently got traded to the storied franchise CSKA Moscow and they wanted to talk long term contract, his agent dropped this bomb on the Predators (in the Russian newspaper Izvestiya), who were trying to trade his rights over here:
(Translated by Dmitry Chesnokov in his post “Alex Radulov decides on KHL for next season, influenced by potential NHL lockout)
“Alexander no longer has thoughts, watching the sea, whether he should go to the NHL or play in the KHL,” Nikolaev told Izvestiya.
“We are negotiating with CSKA about a personal contract. However we are not in CSKA yet; there are matters we have to discuss with the club’s general managers.”
As in, “It’s not even a debate anymore, dude is playing in the ‘K’ next year.”
The thing is, players interested in both leagues have two agents who don’t necessarily communicate, so take that with a grain of salt.
Chesnokov goes on to explain that a potential NHL lockout is playing into Radulov’s decision, as well as negotiating a deal beyond the one year that remains on his current contract in Russia.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone. With the NHL’s CBA in flux, it’s likely that players will start to look overseas at some point this summer. As with Radulov’s return to the NHL last season, until he plays a game in Russia, it will be tough to close the door on any possible return to the NHL. Radulov is too talented, and he still has something to prove in North America.
If he does sign a deal, this does hamper Predators General Manager further from making a trade involving Radulov’s rights. In that case, why would be tough for a team to fork over anything more than a mid-round pick for the winger? The little leverage the Predators had will turn to none.
Radulov found himself in a tough spot when he came over from the KHL this season. The public scrutiny was obviously going to be there (and was of his own making), but stepping out of Russia and into the most intense weeks of the most intense League at less-than-peak physical form was always going to be hard. NHL playoffs are unlike anything else in sports, and I don’t think it could’ve been easy jumping into an already successful group about to go to war with the Detroit Red Wings. And, my guess is, he didn’t have a whole lot of fun trying.
I think if the CBA situation unfolds in time he could be fantastic in North America. He’d just need a fresh start with a new organization and to be there from day one of training camp.
His NHL stats have come either as an young, young player, or from this year’s difficult situation. Someone needs to convince this guy to give it one more shot over here. If that conversation worked out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up on page one of the NHL’s scoring leaderboard after next season.
If it doesn’t…I’d surprised to ever see him in the League again.