Since coming back to the NHL in 2011-12 after his initial departure in 2008-09, Alexander Radulov is again toying with a return to North America.
In an interview with a Russian paper, Business-Gazeta, Radulov said that while he’s not ready to commit to leaving the KHL for the NHL, he admitted that he would not rule out the possibility of coming back to the league for the first time since his 17 game stint in 2011-12 with the Nashville Predators.
So, why now? According to Radulov, it’s because for the first time he’ll have total control over his destination.
“You see, I'm not so young,” Radulov told the paper, according to a rough translation. “(I’m) not 20 years old, and it is possible that I will have the last chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. If it is a great option in a team that will fight for the title, then why not? But now, perhaps, too early to tell. Believe me, I choose what's best for me and my family.”
If asked if there’s also the possibility of re-signing with CSKA Moscow, where Radulov has played his past three years, Radulov added he could, but it will be nice to have options for the first time in his career.
“I've been waiting for the opportunity to be free, with no obligations to some club, to determine their own fate himself,” Radulov said. “So probably I wait it, but now I can not guarantee anything.”
The prospect of Radulov coming back to the NHL remains an interesting one for many reasons, not least of which is to see if, in the right scenario, he can bring the offensive flair that has made him a star in Russia. Radulov’s last hurrah in the NHL with the Predators was marred by a benching that occurred following a reported infraction of a team issued curfew, but forgotten is that the winger scored four goals and 14 points in 17 games.
Over the past three KHL seasons, Radulov has amassed an outstanding 55 goals and 173 points in 128 games. That kind of skill level doesn’t simply disappear and the 29-year-old, who will turn 30 shortly after free agency opens next off-season, could provide quite the offensive boost if he can find a fit for the right price in the NHL.
Were Radulov to come over to the NHL, he would be yet another following what has been a mass exodus from the KHL this past summer. While the league’s two biggest names – Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk – remain, Artemy Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov and veteran blueliner Evgeni Medvedev have all left the primarily Russian league for NHL deals, while Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn are also seeking deals to return to the league.