Former Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov could be returning to his former team after a long hiatus from the NHL.
TSN reported today that the 25-year-old was working to finalize paperwork that would allow him to return to the NHL this season to finish out the remainder of the year with Nashville and fulfill the remaining year of his contract with the Predators.
The NHL Players’ Association also said they would allow Radulov to return to the Predators without having to clear waivers, as an unrestricted free agent would have to do, but Radulov would be exempt because he remains under contract with the club.
Drafted by Nashville in 2004, Radulov first made waves during his junior hockey career when he posted 32 goals and 75 points for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in 2004-05. He followed up that performance with an explosive 61 goals and 152 assists in 62 games the following season. Radulov made his debut with Nashville in 2006-07 and scored 37 points in 64 games. He improved to 26 goals and 58 points during his sophomore season in 2007-08, but decided to sign a three-year contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL in July 2008 before he could fulfill the terms of his three-year entry level contract with Nashville.
Radulov’s career in the KHL has been impressive, averaging 20-plus goals a season and 60 or more points in three of his four seasons abroad. His most impressive season came last year with 20 goals and 80 points in 54 games.
Speculation hit the internet recently regarding Radulov’s possible return to the NHL. However, neither Radulov nor his agent would confirm or deny those rumors.
“I won’t say,” said Radulov’s agent Yuri Nikolaev when asked about a possible return to the NHL for his client. “I will only note that this issue must be resolved with Salavat Yulaev. Without a mutual agreement nothing is going to happen. This is because officially KHL contracts expire on April 30.”
However, today’s news seems to all but guarantee that Radulov will suite up for the Predators for the remainder of the season, giving the team a proven scorer to help them with their Stanley Cup aspirations. The Predators are firmly in fifth place in the Western Conference with 87 points – five ahead of the sixth place Chicago Blackhawks. The team made significant additions at the trade deadline this season, giving them depth on both offense and defense, and currently employs one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Pekka Rinne, who has a league-leading 38 wins.
Radulov would become a restricted free agent on July 1 if he returns to the NHL.