5 Reasons to Be Excited for Alexander Radulov's Possible Return to the NHL
For some, the best player outside of the NHL is Mikael Granlund. I understand. I'd be ecstatic if a prospect of my organization scored like he did in the World Championship last year.
But, for me and anyone that follows the KHL, no one even comes close to edge out Alexander Radulov.
Playing for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Radulov has won an MVP title in 2010 and led his team to the title against Aleksei Morozov's Ak Bars Kazan.
Being MVP in the most competitive league in Europe is a remarkable feat that only proves that his exploits at the QMJHL were real.
OK, he gave a flimsy reason to return to Russia but, now, paperwork is being finalized that may see him back in Music City.
Here are five reasons for us to be excited for his return.
1. The Predators Will Be Downright Scary
Granted Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are the core of the Nashville Predators, but this team isn't as bad as it might seem. With no stars at forward, the Predators still cause their fair share of damage in the Western Conference.
In the effort to keep Ryan Suter for at least another season, David Poile went out and acquired playoff expert defenseman Hal Gill and face-off specialist Paul Gaustad in order to make the team a contender.
Some might say that he accomplished his objective. By coaxing Radulov back for the remainder of the regular season, he got a star forward for an entry-level price because Radulov is still missing a season in his entry-level contract for $980,000. If the Predators weren't being regarded as contenders, beware.
Radulov is way more than a point-per-game player in Russia. If he translates his production to America, the Predators might be poised for a Stanley Cup run this season.
2. Ryan Suter's Decision
David Poile did his best in the trade deadline to acquire pieces that would show Ryan Suter that the Predators are committed to winning a Stanley Cup and that he has bargain power similar to what Shea Weber has.
If Alexander Radulov returns to Nashville, it goes to show that the Predators are all in this season and that the Preds will do anything to keep him.
Radulov has the option to fulfill the rest of his term by becoming a restricted free agent in the summer. If they win the Stanley Cup, I don't think the ownership would have the guts to do what was done to the Blackhawks after they won their Stanley Cup.
But, the Predators are a budget team and, most likely, will have to shed salary at the end of season.
Success might be what Ryan Suter needs to commit to Nashville and Alexander Radulov may be just what the team needs to spark them to the finals.
3. Alexander Radulov Is Scary Good
In his last season for the Predators, Radulov scored 26 goals and 28 assists. In his best season for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, he scored 20 goals and 60 assists.
Playing his best hockey, he has almost Henrik Sedin-type numbers.
The Predators would most certainly welcome someone who could score like this.
Granted, Nashville's defensive system is working really well for several seasons and Barry Trotz has done wonders to players like Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist, yet none of their players have numbers that compare to Radulov.
If he manages to score more than 60 points every season, it justifies David Poile going through all the hustle I'm sure he's going through to get Radulov back in Nashville.
4. Winning Changes People
Besides winning the KHL Golden Stick Award (Hart Trophy) and a Gagarin Cup, Alexander Radulov also enjoyed helping Russia to consecutive World Championships in 2008 and 2009.
With these titles in hand, I'm sure Radulov has ascended to superstardom in Russia, just a little less than his NHL-play comrades Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
This taste of the good life certainly has changed him from the person that stated that Russia offered him better conditions than in America.
Look for Alexander Radulov to try and establish himself in the NHL, either in the Nashville Predators or somewhere else in the summer.
5. In the End, the NHL Wins
In the latter years of the last decade, the NHL has suffered an exodus of Russian players that took some Eastern European players with them and greatly bolstered the KHL. In Radulov's case, it's safe to assume that he robbed Nashville of their potential superstar.
The NHL lost household names like Maxim Afinogenov and the headcase Alexei Yashin, but the league also lost budding defenseman Denis Grebshkov along with names like Patrick Thoresen, Petr Prucha and Sandis Ozolinsh.
Ozolinsh was in the zenith of his career, but he was still a pretty big name even though most of the players that returned never really made it to the upper echelons in the NHL.
Alexander Radulov, for sure, was one of the most prestigious players to leave and his return shows that it'll be very hard for another league to topple the NHL's position as the best league in the planet.