At this point, the KHL seems like a sponge for some of the NHL’s most unwanted contracts. Even when a good player like goalie Evgeni Nabokov departs for the Russian league, it no longer seems like a huge deal.
Yet that wasn’t the case in 2008 when Alexander Radulov left the Nashville Predators for greener (read: more money) pastures in Russia. It was a tough deal to take for the Predators since he was already a top line player for a team desperately short on offensive punch.
In a Russian-language interview translated by Russian Hockey Fans.com, Radulov discussed the possibility of returning to the NHL after he finishes the final year of his KHL contract.
Recently Radulov ensured that David [Poile], Predators’ GM, knows his chances to get back to the USA for the next season and that he accepted the fact that he wants to honor his 3-yr deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa. But he believes that no links were broken and that he’s ready to welcome Radulov back in the NHL.
“People were nice to me there, they have good fans and I liked the organization. My agent actually talked to them during these years. But I don’t want to play the speculation game. For now I’m a KHL player.”
Even if he refuses to officially state a return, he also said that he was always honest about his desire to play in the NHL. After his departure many pointed the finger at him for having left the Predators just for money.
“People said and written many things about me after my departure from Nashville, but I never lied about my intention to play in the world’s best league. The KHL is a good league, but the NHL is still the best.”
One potential snag is that the Predators still own Radulov’s rights on an entry-level deal (more discussion on that factor here). Would the young sniper be willing to play at the NHL level – whether it’s with Nashville or a team who acquires his rights – for less money than he would make if he stayed in Russia?
It’s a question NHL teams should be eager to answer because he was showing some serious promise at 21, with a 26 goal, 58 point output in just his second season during the 2007-08 season.
After losing the services of Dmitry Kulikov (back), Zach Bogosian (knee), Josh Gorges (broken foot) and Taylor Fedun (undisclosed), Buffalo was in desperate need of depth on the back end.
So, on Monday, the club set about fixing that by recalling Erik Burgdoerfer from AHL Rochester.
Burgdoerfer, 27, is a pretty good story. Undrafted out of R.P.I, he spent parts of five seasons in the East Coast league before becoming an AHL regular in ’14. He spent two years in Hershey before catching on with the Sabres this past July, signing a one-year, two-way deal and then starting the season with the Amerks.
Through 22 games this year, Burgdoerfer has seven points and 24 PIM.
Buffalo takes on the Caps tonight and while Burgdoerfer’s debut could be a neat narrative, it doesn’t take the sting away from another injury wave that’s swept over the club. The Sabres project to roll a six-man defensive unit of Burgdoerfer, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Brendan Guhle, Cody Franson and Justin Falk tonight, which is pretty thin.
And this is a Sabres club, don’t forget, that’s already lost forwards Jack Eichel and Evander Kane for significant lengths of time this season.
Back in October, they had a new coach, a new system, and a new goalie that wasn’t stopping the puck.
But it’s a different story today for the Calgary Flames. They’re one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and they just blasted the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 8-3.
Of course, the big story yesterday was that Johnny Gaudreau was back. He returned from injury ahead of schedule, then scored just 2:09 into last night’s game.
But the Flames were already on a roll without Johnny Hockey, thanks in large part to the goalie who was supposed to be the backup, Chad Johnson, and also to a system that seems to have become more comfortable to play.
“It’s just experience,” said Johnson, per the Flames’ website. “New group. New systems. I said from Day One we were going to have some struggles the first month.”
Read more: The Flames are still learning their new system, and it shows
Credit to new coach Glen Gulutzan for getting his charges to believe. They started 5-9-1 in their first 15. They’re now 13-13-2, just barely out of a playoff spot after three straight home wins.
“You don’t get too many games in the NHL where you can breathe,” Gulutzan told reporters after last night’s blowout victory. “When it was 6-1 at the end of the second when you’re like, ‘OK. As long as we play good and solid … we can breathe a little bit.’ It was nice. I thought eight-different goal scorers is good for the whole morale. Good for the whole group.”
Earlier this season, the Montreal Canadiens dropped a 10-0 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Habs head coach Michel Therrien left Al Montoya in for all 10 goals against.
His refusal to pull Montoya made waves around the hockey world. The topic sparked a debate about unwritten rules in hockey.
On Sunday, it seemed as though the Ducks would reignite that debate, as they left Jonathan Bernier in the game for all eight goals in an 8-3 loss to the Calgary Flames.
But in his post-game press conference, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle explained why he decided against putting John Gibson in the net.
Here’s an excerpt from the OC Register:
The situation might have called for Carlyle to pull (Bernier) but Gibson, who played Saturday in Edmonton, was suffering from stomach flu and diarrhea. Had Gibson been in condition to play, Carlyle said he would have pulled Bernier after the fourth Calgary goal.
“We kind of left him hanging high and dry,” Carlyle said. “We wouldn’t normally have never done that to him. In these situations, you can’t put people that are sick into the net. You’ve got to think big picture. Big picture is this game we couldn’t change (the score).”
Well, that sounds like a pretty good reason not to put the backup goalie in.
If you haven’t seen all eight goals the Ducks gave up tonight, here they are:
The Ducks have two days off before they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Gibson should be fine by then.
–The Oilers decided to keep Jesse Puljujarvi on their roster this season, but is that the right decision? He’s been a healthy scratch in three straight games, and even though he’s burned the first year of his entry-level contract, there’s still reasons to send him down to the AHL or Europe. (Edmonton Journal)
–The NHL season is almost two months old, but there are still some players that aren’t producing as much as we expected. The Hockey News looks at five players that aren’t living up to expectations right now. (The Hockey News)
–When we think of this year’s top rookies, we think of guys like Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Mitch Marner, but Carolina’s Sebastian Aho tends to fly under the radar. “He’s got a lot of skill, and he’s pretty smart and shifty. It’s not easy to come into this league and play well, and I think he’s done a pretty good job. Coming in and being able to handle the NHL at that age is impressive,” ‘Canes defenseman Justin Faulk said of Aho. (Sports Illustrated)
–Canadiens forwards Michael McCarron and Artturi Lehkonen go head-to-head in a “cookie race”. The first player to get a cookie from their forehead to their mouth (without using their hands) wins. (Top)
–You probably don’t think of Alabama-Huntsville as a hockey factory, but they’ve produced an NHLer and their program is improving. “Not too many people can believe the route that I took, but I wouldn’t change it. I hope that anything that I’ve been doing at this level is helping out that program,” said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot. (New York Times)
–On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrated the 25th anniversary of their 1991 Stanley Cup victory. It was a big deal. Unfortunately, Jaromir Jagr couldn’t attend the event, but he had a pretty good reason. (NHL)