Remember Alexander Radulov? He’s the former Nashville Predators forward who, along with Andrei Kostitsyn, made headlines in all the wrong ways after being busted staying out late partying while the Preds faced (and lost to) the Coyotes in the 2012 playoffs.
While he went back to Russia after that downer of an ending to his NHL season, he’s got something else to be bummed out about. Radulov was stripped of his captaincy of CSKA Moscow in the KHL. As R-Sport reports (via Dmitry Chesnokov), it was GM and former Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov who made the call.
“The last captain had problems with discipline,” said Fedorov, who did not mention Radulov by name. “Will it hurt the previous captain? He shouldn’t and cannot be hurt.”
Taking his spot as captain is former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Alexei Morozov. Seeing that Radulov hasn’t really curtailed his fiery ways and ability to play nice with his teammates should help Predators fans feel even better that the team parted ways with him.
The move will be Kostisyn’s third of the calendar year. He started out the season in Montreal, scoring 12G-12A-24PTS in 53 games, before being shipped to Nashville at the trade deadline.
His time with the Predators was tumultuous. Flashes of strong play (he scored 12 points in 19 regular season game and tied for the team in postseason goals, with three) were largely overshadowed by the broken curfew incident in the Western Conference semifinals, an incident that also involved Alexander Radulov — who has since returned to the KHL, signing with CSKA Moscow.
By signing in Russia, Kostitsyn also ends the brief family reunion he and brother Sergei had in Nashville. The younger Kostitsyn re-upped with the Preds this offseason, signing a two-year, $6 million deal.
From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.
48-26-8, 104 points. Second in the Central Division, fourth in the Western Conference. Lost in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to Phoenix (4-1).
Mike Moore, Chris Mason
Ryan Suter, Alexander Radulov, Jack Hillen, Tyler Sloan, Francis Bouillon, Jordin Tootoo, Kyle Wilson, Anders Lindback, maybe Shea Weber, likely Andrei Kostitsyn (who is still an UFA)
Didn’t have a first-round pick. Took Pontus Aberg with the 37th overall selection and Colton Sissons with the 50th pick.
This has been a rough summer for the Predators. After a disappointing end to their playoff run, Nashville watched a number of players go, including Ryan Suter. On top of that, Shea Weber agreed to a massively frontloaded 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Predators GM David Poile took Suter’s decision hard. Among other things, he said that he “will never, ever” understand why Suter would choose to pass on the opportunity to spend his career playing alongside Weber.
After Suter left, Poile said, “[Weber] believes in us, sees himself as the leader of our hockey club, and I think he, a lot like us, is disappointed with the outcome with Ryan.”
First and foremost, the Nashville Predators need to either match Philadelphia’s offer sheet or let him play with the Flyers and accept the draft picks as compensation. If they chose the latter option, they might then trade some or all of those picks back to Philadelphia for established players or prospects.
Either way, that won’t be the last thing Nashville does this summer. Sergei Kostitsyn has an arbitration date set for Aug. 2. On top of that, Nashville is still well under the salary floor, so they’ll probably make a move to address that issue.
Their blueline will be an obvious concern next season, but for a team that just lost Ryan Suter and maybe Shea Weber, the situation isn’t quite as dire as one might suspect. They do have some promising young defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Jonathon Blum that are expected to play bigger roles next season.
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With or without Shea Weber, Nashville has big questions
While Nashville GM David Poile ponders whether or not to match the 14-year offer sheet put forth by Philly to captain Shea Weber, he’s got his hands full fixing the team one way or another no matter what.
Nashville’s troubles abound at every position other than in goal, but on defense life could be miserable.
Losing Ryan Suter is hard enough to manage but losing Weber would make the job for veterans like Hal Gill and Kevin Klein as well as youngsters like Roman Josi, Jonathon Blum, and Ryan Ellis that much more difficult. Production from guys like Suter and Weber is nearly impossible to replicate and asking the guys left behind to make up for that is asking perhaps too much. At least Barry Trotz’s system is still in place to help them out.
If Weber stays that’s a huge relief to this entire group, but the issues surrounding the rest of the team are immense and for Weber, it’ll make him feel like he’s taken a trip back in time.
Offensively, the Preds are still hurting. They’ve parted ways with playoff distractions Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn as Radulov headed back to the KHL and Kostitsyn is a free agent. Both of them were late season additions, but on a team that was already offensively lacking, losing guys that can fill the net is no good.
The pressure once again falls on the shoulders of Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, and Martin Erat to score goals. They’re solid but not game-breakers. Youngsters like Craig Smith and potentially 2010 draft pick Austin Watson may get long looks to see if they can spark the team.
Progress has been Nashville’s thing for many seasons, but it’s hard to look forward when things may just be taking a huge step backwards.
Players like that come with less than ideal pasts, but that’s what makes them so cheap in the first place. They might turn out to be the steals of the free agent period or wasted money — but it’s hard to call bargain bin signings true gambles given that the teams are only making short-term commitments at relatively low prices.
Here’s a list of some of the remaining unrestricted free agents that will likely be scooped up for similar contracts:
Andrei Kostitsyn — Obviously, the notion that the Nashville Predators could turn around Andrei Kostitsyn’s career like they did for his younger brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, didn’t work out.
Kostitsyn actually did have some on-ice success in Nashville, but that was drowned out by the curfew controversy.
Still, he has the potential to be a top-six forward next season.
Petr Sykora — Sykora was a pleasant surprise last season, earning a contract with the Devils out of training camp and scoring 21 goals and 44 points in 82 games.
He’ll turn 36 years old on Nov. 19, but he’s still a decent secondary scorer and capable of helping out with the man advantage. Plus, he’s played in 133 postseason contests and has been on two Stanley Cup winning teams, so he’s got the experience to help guide a younger team.
Carlo Colaiacovo — He’s only reached the 70-game milestone once and that was back in 2008-09. Colaiacovo can’t seem to get through a season without suffering a noteworthy injury and on top of that, he struggled last season with just 19 points in 64 contests.
Still, when he’s healthy he’s a top-four caliber defenseman and there are a lot of teams hungry for one of those. He’s still just 29 years old, so he’s got a lot of hockey left in him and it’s not hard to imagine him bouncing back. Maybe he’s holding out for a long-term contract, but if he can be had for a bargain bin price, then it would be hard to fault any team for grabbing him.