How Alex Radulov's defection from the Predators to the KHL created 'The Russian Factor'

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for radulov.jpgIt’s a distant memory for most hockey fans who don’t swear an allegiance to the Nashville Predators, but Alex Radulov’s defection to the KHL – right in the middle of his entry-level deal with the Predators – was at one time an anomaly.

OK, it still is to some extent because most defectors wait until their contracts expire before they jump to Russia. Still, it was uncommon at that time for a young candidate entering his prime to leave the NHL for a foreign league. Most of the time, it was the other way around, like the case of Evgeni Malkin and many others.

Matt Reitz of A View From the Cheap Seats brings up a great point: we’re still seeing the impact of Radulov’s defection years later.

When the deal went down, it was a big story-but like anything else it faded away when the next big story grabbed our attention. But looking back, the moment when Alexander Radulov decided take his talents to Russia might have been one of the biggest hockey culture changing moments of the last decade.

It changed the landscape. And whether we know it or not, we’ve been living in a different world ever since.

Since Radulov left for the KHL, we’ve had a new term introduced into our hockey lexicon: The Russian Factor. No longer was a Russian player drafted solely for their merits on the ice. Now, they would be measured against a different standard. Are they talented? That question was just as important as another: Are they committed to playing in the NHL? Some might think it’s a silly question to ask a prospect who wants to play in the best league in the world-but answer that question wrong and a player will have a helluva time trying to find someone willing to take a chance on him.

Reitz points out that the biggest impact might be felt in the way teams draft Russian players. Many people believe that the Washington Capitals landed one of the steals of the NHL Draft when they chose Evgeny Kuznetsov, but others wonder if players of his caliber will tolerate the league-enforced rookie minimum contracts (and there’s also some concerns about character, but that’s a whole other discussion).

It’s been an interesting give-and-take between the NHL and the mysterious-yet-sporadically-deep-pocketed KHL. Without a solid transfer agreement, there will be worries from the North American side that they’ll throw a high draft pick away on a gamble who will never play for their team.

While Radulov hints that he might come back to the NHL (and the Predators, for their part, are being PR-friendly by implying that the door isn’t closed for his return), the damage has been done. Teams will be weary of drafting a young Russian player until a transfer agreement is put in place. In that way, Radulov is one of the NHL’s most prominent recent trendsetters.

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    No hearing scheduled for Gudas after big hit on Sabres rookie

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    Flyers d-man Radko Gudas doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled for his hit on Buffalo’s Daniel Catenacci on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

    Gudas was given a five-minute charging major for laying out Catenacci late in the third period of Philly’s 5-1 win. The hit ended Catenacci’s night, a tough way for the 22-year-old to finish just his third NHL contest.

    After the contest, Buffalo players and head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t mince words when it came to Gudas’ actions.

    “I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News. “I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

    “That guy’s an idiot and stupid,” Foligno said of Gudas, per the Courier-Post. “He gets his hits in, he’s dirty and he’s been known for it. He goes after a rookie who plays in three games and goes right at his head.

    “He’s an idiot, that guy.”

    Gudas certainly has furthered his reputation as a dangerous hitter this season.

    In December, he was suspended three games for a headshot on Mika Zibanejad and, earlier this month, was tossed from a game against Montreal for clipping, after delivering a low hit on Habs forward Lucas Lessio.

    Report: The chances of Carey Price returning this season are ‘slim’

    Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price looks on during a scrimmage game alongside goaltending coach Stephane Waite during NHL hockey training camp in Brossard, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Details surrounding Carey Price‘s injury have been scarce, but according to La Presse newspaper, the chances of him returning to the lineup this season are “slim” at best.

    The 28-year-old has been out with a lower-body injury since Nov. 25.

    His return date has been pushed back several times, and La Presse suggests that’ll happen again.

    Originally, the Canadiens said Price would be out six weeks. Then, on January 21, General Manager Marc Bergevin said he expected his goalie to be out another three to four weeks, which means that he would be coming back sometime next week.

    Price has been skating for a while, but he’s been doing so without his goalie equipment.

    Basically, don’t hold your breath.

    Here’s an excerpt from the story (quotes have been translated):

    The possibility of Carey Price returning this season are so slim that people in the organization don’t even believe it’ll happen.

    According to information obtained by La Presse, the Canadiens aren’t optimistic about their star goaltender’s chances of returning this season. He’s been out since November and the club refuses to confirm the fact that he suffered a right knee injury. 

    The report goes on to say that Price is dealing with a Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) injury. The only good news is that he won’t have to undergo surgery.

    “People in the Canadiens organization don’t believe he’ll  be back during the regular season,” a source told La Presse’s Richard Labbé. “They’re wondering if it’s even worth pushing him to come back, but they don’t want to admit anything publicly.

    “They don’t want the fans to give up hope this season. There’s a marketing aspect to all of this.”

    The story also mentions that Price is telling people that he’ll be healthy enough to represent Canada at the World Cup of Hockey next September.

    PHT Morning Skate: Snoop Dogg wears OHL team’s jersey during a show

    Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, arrives at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    –Snoop Dog wore a Mitch Marner London Knights jersey at his concert in London. (Bardown)

    Brent Burns‘ son got a gift from Jaromir Jagr:

    –Here’s Pierre LeBrun’s latest edition of Team Canada’s World Cup roster. (ESPN)

    –The NHL completely ruined the Toronto Maple Leafs’ centennial season. (Puck Daddy)

    –The Chicago Blackhawks will be going to the White House on Feb. 18. (Blackhawks.nhl.com)

    –Wings goalie Petr Mrazek talks to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman about “doing the right things” and “working hard”. (Sportsnet)

    Sharks scratch Flames’ big lead, Calgary wins anyway

    Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund (11) chases down the puck against San Jose Sharks' Tomas Hertl (48) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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    If you turned off Thursday’s Calgary Flames – San Jose Sharks game early, you’ll probably be stunned to see that Calgary won 6-5 via a shootout.

    For instance:

    • A Sharks fan may have bitterly called it a night when Calgary went up 4-1.
    • Conversely, a Flames devotee might have retired after San Jose took a 5-4 lead, possibly with a broken remote.

    The Flames only trailed for about two minutes before scoring the last “real” goal of the game, eventually taking their third straight win thanks to a shootout triumph.

    It’s been a strange ride for Calgary, with its most recent win happening after Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma were punished with a healthy scratch. As strange as this game was, the “charity point” can leave both teams looking through a lot of film, yet with something gained as well.

    Ultimately, the message may very well be: don’t sleep on these teams.

    (In less positive news, Karri Ramo is injured, and it doesn’t look good.

    Jonas Hiller closing out the game on a hot streak could be pretty important if Ramo’s out for some time.)