Despite Past, Red Wings Should Take Chance on Radulov

“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things. We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”
David Poile, General Manager, Nashville Predators

On the morning of May 1st, 2012, the focal point of the Nashville Predators should have been avoiding a 3-0 series hole against the Phoenix Coyotes, whom they were playing in the Western Conference Semifinals with the third game of the best-of-seven later that night. However, a disappointed Poile addressed the media with a matter that couldn’t have come at a worse time. Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov reportedly missed curfew by a long shot, reportedly seen at the bar at the break of dawn before Game 2 in Scottsdale and were then suspended for Game 3.

Radulov had just returned from a four-year stint from the KHL late in the 2011-12 season, a run that started with even more controversy. The now 29-year old was temporarily suspended from playing in IIHF play back in the summer of 2008 when he wanted to sign with Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the KHL despite having one year remaining on his entry-level contract with the Predators, who selected him 15th overall in 2004. Ultimately, he left and put up four straight 20+ goal seasons with two 60+ point campaigns, topping out at 80 points in 2010-11.

So, here we were again. The suspension struck a chord with Radulov, and after just 17 games (including playoffs) back with the team that drafted him, the Preds decided not to bring him back and he returned home to Russia again signing a four-year contract with CSKA Moscow ($9.2 AAV), a team with Sergei Fedorov currently as its General Manager.

Four more strong seasons later, and Radulov wants back into the NHL. Funny how this comes right at the time the Red Wings are about to lose a Russian legend of their own in Pavel Datsyuk.

Despite Past, Red Wings Should Take Chance On Radulov

While Datsyuk’s situation is still technically unknown, the entire Red Wings team has already signed a #13 jersey, most likely as a parting gift. Captain and Euro Twin Henrik Zetterberg himself has said that he’s pretty much made up his mind. While the soon-t0-be 38-year old was on his last legs (literally) anyway, the loss of Datsyuk’s calmness, unreal skill with the puck and the grace he skated with will be missed greatly, and it’s no easy fix with the team getting younger. However, another skilled Russian who has made himself available via free agency could cushion the blow momentarily while the team grows up.

Enter Radulov, and all 6’1″ and 200 pounds of his scoring punch. Turning 30 on July 5th, he’s logged 391 KHL regular season games and 86 more playoff games. He’s had eight professional seasons of 20+ goals, including 26 markers his second full season in the NHL back in 2007-08. Since the KHL season is just 60 games, he definitely could have had some campaigns of 30+ and even 40+ goals in an 82-game setting. In terms of “what have you done for me lately,” Radulov has finished all but one season in the last seven with less than 20+ goals and 60+ points, and he only played 34 games that year (’13-14). Professionally, he’s been known to be a playoff performer, as in 104 total games he’s scored 30 goals and 97 points, showing off his playmaking ability on the big stage in addition to timely goals.

Arguably, the Red Wings haven’t had a dynamic goal scoring weapon that they have been able to rely on consistenly since Marian Hossa was brought in on a one-year deal in 2008-09. In fact, they haven’t had a 30-goal scorer since, you guessed it, Hossa scored 40 that season (that team was fun). The game has gotten tighter and it is harder to score now than it was a decade ago. The Red Wings were a prime example of that last season involved in 47 one-goal games boasting just two 20-goal scorers, one of them Dylan Larkin, a rookie. All told, the team finished 23rd in the League in goals scored per game at 2.55. Their goal differential was -10, the worst out of all playoff teams and the second time since 2000 the team finished with a minus-differential (’13-14). A team that deprived of goal scoring can’t mask a defense that had its share of deficiencies.

Radulov would add a much-needed boost to those woes with a big body that shields the puck to go along with some shifty hands that set up a wicked shot. He is also an impressive playmaker as mentioned before, totaling 40+ assists three of the last four seasons. On the power play, which would have finished lower if not for a late season surge that put them at #13 with the man advantage at 18.8%, the Nizhny Tagil native would provide a much-needed weapon on the unit that was missing last season due to underachievement and indecision across the board. In a full 82-game slate, Radulov is likely to score double digit power play goals utilizing that great shot and solid one-timer while making good decisions with the puck.

General Manager Ken Holland from the time the Wings were eliminated has been checking in, speaking to him and his agent. It’s clear the interest is there, but the team doesn’t want to go past a single year, obviously cautious of his previous off-ice adventures. However, Radulov recently became a father and has been reported to be more mature (take it with a grain of salt if you want). A one-year “show me what you got” deal could provide incentive for him to play for the multi-year contract he originally wanted. There is low risk if he decides to go back to Russia and/or hasn’t changed after all from his Nashville days, and at the same time, potential for a solid reward in terms of making an impact on the ice doing what he does best.

Take a flyer.

Stats courtesy of,, Hockey DB
Quote courtesy of
Contract info courtesy of Capfriendly and Yahoo!

Main Photo: