Although it might cost an interested team a draft pick or more, there’s a high-scoring forward now available less than a month from the July 1 start to free agency in the NHL.
Nashville general manager Dave Poile has told The Tennessean that his club will not bring back Alexander Radulov, who after finishing up his three-year contract with the team is scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer.
Poile says that he will look to trade Radulov’s rights to a team the Russian sniper is willing to re-sign with. Or Radulov might return to the KHL. It is not known yet what Radulov’s plans are, although he told The Tennessean after the Predators’ season ended that he wanted to be back with Nashville.
Radulov is a talented but, like many Russian players, enigmatic would-be star. Although he returned to the Preds under the premise that he would put their offense over the top last March, he scored three goals and seven points in nine regular-season games. In the playoffs, his line read 1-5-6 in eight games. He famously was suspended for Game 3 of the Preds’ second-round series against Phoenix because he broke team curfew in Arizona. He was also held out of Game 4 along with teammate and drinking buddy Andrei Kostitsyn.
If Radulov wants to stay in the NHL, he’ll attract plenty of suitors. A team that’s struggled for scoring at key times, in particular on the power play, could certainly use him at the right price. In addition to trading something to Nashville for his rights, a team would have to be willing to ante up somewhere from $3-4 million for the 26-year-old Radulov’s services.
Since general manager Peter Chiarelli took over the Bruins, Boston has shied away from Russian players of most ages. Head coach Claude Julien had a typical rough relationship with Alexei Kovalev (who didn’t?) in Montreal, and Radulov’s willingness to be the two-way player Julien and the Bruins expect everyone to be would probably make the Bruins a poor fit for Radulov’s services — especially if Nathan Horton is definitely going to be back at full strength come fall.
Nonetheless, Radulov exceeded 20 goals in shorter seasons in the KHL and his last full NHL season featured 26-32-58 totals in 2007-08. You can weigh in on the notion of Radulov playing for the Bruins by voting here.