It’s been long enough that any dreams Nashville Predators fans had about Alex Radulov returning to the team are probably long forgotten. If they weren’t totally erased a few months ago, it seems just about official that he won’t play as a Predator ever again.
That’s because the talented Russian winger will ply his trade in Russia for two more seasons after the 2010-11 expires, as Radulov reportedly signed a two-year extension with Salavat Yulaef of the KHL. Radulov made that decision rather than flirting with an NHL return because he was worried about returning to the NHL before the league signs a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to a story by Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy. In other words, Radulov wanted protection from a possible lockout.
Here’s what Radulov’s Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev said about Radulov’s chances of returning to the NHL, which was obviously pushed back even farther out into the future.
When Radulov’s contract in the KHL expires, he will be 27 years old. Nikolaev said that both the player and his agent held that number in mind when Radulov signed his extension, hoping that if Radulov does come back to the NHL, he will be considered a free agent. But for now, Radulov is staying in the KHL for the next three years.
It’s a shame for North American hockey fans that we must miss out on a fairly impressive talent in Radulov, who was just getting used to the NHL during his brief stint with the Predators. Yet, at 27, he would still have a few more prime years left if he did decide to return, so you never know.
My guess is that he won’t be greeted too warmly in Nashville, though.