Nobody is surprised to see winger Alexander Radulov return to the safety of the KHL after his disappointing return to the NHL.
He resurfaced with the Nashville Predators long enough let down that franchise with a playoff curfew violation. The resulting distraction helped tank the Preds against the Coyotes.
The Predators didn’t try to re-sign Radulov as a restricted free agent. The team hoped to deal his rights to a team willing to sign the Russian forward, but he returned to the KHL before that market materialized.
His exit further weakened the coming free agent market for forwards. He could have become the most attractive Plan B behind Zach Parise for teams seeking to add offense.
The Radulov camp cited the possible NHL lockout for his return to Russia, but the lack of interest from other NHL teams had to influence the move as well. Although Radulov has year left on his KHL deal, he could command epic money from the CSKA on a long-term arrangement.
Forward Alexander Radulov has an opportunity to the KHL's version of Sidney Crosby. With Russia’s pro league struggling to keep elite young players from migrating to the NHL, Radulov can cash in big time by swimming against that current.
CSKA Moscow, run by former NHL star Sergei Fedorov, needs a young star to build around. Last season its “name” player was yesteryear NHL star Alexei Yashin, who scored just nine goals in 43 games at the age of 37.
Flighty Nikita Filatov, the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, scored just four goals in 18 games for CSKA after the Senators turned him loose. So far this skilled young scorer has lacked the drive to become an elite performer.
Radulov’s brief and unhappy return to the NHL burned his Nashville bridge forever. The Predators have no intention of offering the restricted free agent a new deal.
Nashville general manager David Poile would love to trade his rights for draft picks or prospects, but those rights would become worthless once Radulov finalizes a KHL deal.
The New York Post reports that the CSKA offer would make Radulov the world’s highest-paid hockey player in terms of take-home compensation. The New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals seem to have some interest in him, but NHL scouts generally see him as a mid-range scorer with intriguing upside.
He can’t expect to make top dollar in North America. He has the skill to become an impact NHL player but he appears to lack the inclination. So Radulov should take the money and run back home to Russia.
The KHL would love to get him back, curfew violations and all.
Capital general manager David Poile will have to use his diplomatic skills to smooth over relations with his Russian contingent.
Restricted free agent Alexander Radulov and unrestricted free agent Andre Kostitsyn sat for two games of the ill-fated Coyotes series after missing a team curfew. Restricted free agent Sergei Kostitsyn made curfew but wasn’t happy with how coach Barry Trotz treated the other two.
“I think the management was too tough on Alexander and Andrei,” told a Russian publication, according to a translation by Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports. “The punishment for the incident could have been a monetary fine, [they] went too far with the disqualification in the midst of an important stage of the playoffs. We missed the guys in games three and four of the series.”
The Predators could likely get something for Radulov’s rights, if Poile opted to turn that page. Several franchises would love to add Radulov’s talent, assuming he still wants to play in the NHL.
Nashville could let Sergei Kostitsyn walk by opting not to make him an offer. Andrei Kostitsyn is free to weigh anything the Predators might offer against potential deals elsewhere.
Can the relationship be salvaged? This trio could increase Nashville's offensive skill level by sticking around.
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