Alexander Radulov’s name has been mentioned nearly every off-season in connection with an NHL return, but the KHL standout and former Nashville Predator may actually be on his way back to North America next season.
According to SovSport.ru, Radulov, who will turn 30 on July 5, has been offered a long-term deal with CSKA Moscow but has turned down the offer in hopes he can find a spot to land in the NHL next season. The news of Radulov’s potential departure comes as CSKA readies for the Gagarin Cup final against Eastern Conference champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Among the teams reportedly interested in Radulov’s services next season are the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and New York Islanders, but there will no doubt be at least a few other teams that at least kick the tires on Radulov, who was a first-round draft pick back in 2004.
Losing Radulov would be a significant blow to the KHL in terms of star power, as he has long been one of the faces of the league. Radulov originally left the NHL following the 2007-08 campaign when he had one year remaining on his entry-level with the Predators. Radulov was already emerging as a potential star in the NHL, but received a big money offer to return to the KHL.
Radulov spent the next four seasons with Salavat Yulaev Ufa and was named the KHL MVP for three consecutive seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12. He helped Ufa to a Gagarin Cup in 2010-11, but after the team flamed out of the post-season the following year, Radulov returned to the NHL to play out the final season of his NHL deal with the Predators. All told, however, Radulov’s stay lasted a mere 17 games split between the regular season and playoffs. He tallied four goals and 13 points, but fell under scrutiny when he was scratched during the post-season for missing curfew.
Following the short stint in Nashville, Radulov returned to the KHL on a four-year deal that reportedly paid the Russian star upwards of $9 million per season. He’s in the final season of that deal this campaign, though, which opens up the opportunity for Radulov to return to the NHL as an unrestricted free agent.
The likelihood of him landing similar money in the NHL to what he made on his most recent KHL deal isn’t high, but if Radulov signs a short-term deal he may be able to increase his value if he can have a good campaign. For his NHL career, Radulov has averaged .66 points per game, but he was more than a point per game player in the KHL and his production in his brief NHL return showed that he still had the ability to produce at that level.
It has been four full seasons since Radulov last saw NHL action, but it’s hard to deny that he has pure scoring ability. Including the Olympics, Radulov has been more than a point per game player at every level since he last left the NHL in 2012 and his past two seasons have been incredibly productive for CSKA. In 99 games over the past two seasons, Radulov has 47 goals and 136 points. He’s added another 11 goals and 32 points in 28 playoff games.
Radulov’s move to the NHL would come the year following an off-season that saw KHL players Artemi Panarin, Evgeny Medvedev, Viktor Tikhonov, Alex Burmistrov and Nikita Soshnikov sign NHL deals or return from the KHL.