The agent for Alexander Radulov wouldn’t say whether or not he approves of his client’s decision to sign a three-year contract with Salavat Ufa in Russia, but he did acknowledge that the Continental Hockey League team offered so much money that it put Radulov in an almost untenable situation.
“On the basis of what he was offered, I would think that most people would come to a similar conclusion,” Jay Grossman said of Radulov’s decision to sign a deal with Ufa despite the fact he still has a year remaining on his contract with the Nashville Predators. “I don’t think it was ever his intention to leave Nashville on bad terms. It was more a case of the phenomenal offer he received. It was staggering.”
How staggering? The three-year deal is worth a total of $13 million tax-free. With a tax rate of about 35 per cent in Tennessee, that means the deal is actually worth almost $18 million, which means Radulov will make the equivalent of $6 million a season if the deal is not quashed by the KHL. If he plays in Nashville this season, Radulov will make $984,000 before performance bonuses on the last year of his three-year entry-level contract.
The new agreement between the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation to not poach players under contract hasn’t even been put into writing yet, but it has already received its first test with the Radulov signing.
IIHF spokesman Szymon Szemberg said the contract with Ufa is, “a flagrant breach of the agreement.”
The NHL and the IIHF, along with KHL executive Alexander Medvedev, came to an agreement Thursday in Zurich not to poach players under contract to the other league. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was apparently informed just after the meeting about reports that Radulov had signed with Ufa, and told the IIHF to order the KHL to nullify the Radulov contract if there is one.
Predators’ GM David Poile did not return calls placed to him, but through a Predators spokesman said the organization still considers him team property and expects him to be in training camp in September.
In any event, Szemberg said the IIHF will enforce the peace agreement immediately.
“The IIHF will tell the KHL to not allow this contract according to what all the parties agreed to (Thursday),” Szemberg said.
Grossman, who is a certified agent NHL Players’ Association agent and, as such, would be unable to negotiate a contract that contravenes the agreement, said the negotiations and the deal were done by a Russian agent. But he did acknowledge that he was in close contact with Radulov through the entire process.
Radulov had already told the Predators he preferred to play at home, which was a contributing factor in his decision, Grossman said. But the money Ufa offered him was a much bigger factor.
“He did not make this decision on the spur of the moment,” Grossman said. “It was well thought out. What was the overriding factor in his decision was that he would be the third- or fourth-highest paid player in that league.”
There is little doubt the NHL will push very hard for the KHL to reject the contract, but all that might do is delay Radulov’s exit to Russia by one year. And if Radulov were forced to turn his back on all that money and return to the NHL against his will, the Predators wouldn’t exactly have a happy player on their hands.
When asked whether the deal will stand up, Grossman said, “I have no idea. I would have to defer that to the Nashville Predators and the NHL and the KHL and whoever else is involved.”