The Nashville Predators won’t have Alexander Radulov to kick around anymore.
Slava Malamud of Russia’s Sport-Express reports Radulov has agreed to a four-year contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, thus ending his not-so glorious return to the NHL.
Malamud reports CSKA general manager and former NHL star Sergei Fedorov was instrumental in recruiting Radulov back to Russia, and that they have their sights set on Alexander Semin next.
Radulov’s brief return to Nashville was initially meant to help make the Predators serious Stanley Cup threats. Instead, Radulov — along with Andrei Kostitsyn — wound up getting busted for breaking curfew and suspended by the Predators for a game. That distraction, along with other poor play, saw the Predators get bounced out of the second round by the Coyotes.
Now Radulov goes down as the guy who did more to hinder a team’s Cup chances than helped. At least he’ll always have his performance in the first round against Detroit to look back fondly upon.
Update (10:04 a.m. ET): Yahoo! Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov reports Radulov will make $9.2 million a year with CSKA. Safe to say he wasn’t going to make close to that in the NHL.
All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.
Andrei Kostitsyn (RW)
2011-12 cap hit: $3.25 million
Kostitsyn has a lengthy history of up-and-downs and missed expectations. All the same, he might be best known as the other guy involved in the Alexander Radulov curfew controversy. They both come with baggage and it looks like neither of them will play for the Predators next season — but that’s where the similarities end.
Kostitsyn turned 27 in February and has only reached the 50-point mark once in his career. (He’s coming off a 36-point campaign.) Unlike Radulov, teams aren’t going to sign Kostitsyn with the hope that everything will finally click and he’ll serve as a primary contributor. At the most, they’ll be hoping he’ll fit in as a second liner who’s capable of providing some secondary scoring.
Kostitsyn will likely end up with a one- or two-year deal, a modest salary, and the opportunity to get back to the level that produced three 20-goal seasons in Montreal.
More UFA spotlights
It seemed that Alexander Radulov’s days with the Nashville Predators were numbered from the moment that Barry Trotz decided him to suspend him during the playoffs, but now it’s almost official. Reports of intense interest from the KHL and even the New York Rangers have already surfaced, but now Predators GM David Poile even told the Tennessean that the team will either trade his rights to another team or let him return to the KHL.
“The best way to characterize it is it’s time to not pursue Rad anymore,” Poile said. “If he wants to play in the KHL that’s fine, if he wants to play with another NHL team I’d be willing to trade his rights.”
When asked if it would be safe to say that Radulov won’t be with the Predators next season, Poile said: “I would say right now that would be safe to say.”
As messy as the two-game suspensions for Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were, it’s hard not to get the “afterall that?” feeling from this situation. The Predators waited years to get the rising young forward back to the NHL and then he ultimately played just 17 games (nine regular season, eight in the playoffs) for the Preds.
In that time he was quite productive, yet that curfew snafu clearly soured Trotz & Co. on the pending restricted free agent.
It’s likely that a KHL team could make Radulov quite happy, but considering the brief tease in the NHL, it only heightens the curiosity regarding what kind of career he could generate in North America. It’ll be interesting to see if that ends up happening after all, yet one thing seems clear: you can mark “return to the Predators” off the list of possibilities.
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reports Predators GM David Poile met with impending UFA defenseman Ryan Suter on Thursday at Suter’s house in Madison, WI.
“The meetings were very, very good,” Poile said. “They were very positive and very constructive.”
Poile also stated he and Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, would continue to talk on a regular basis leading up to the July 1 free agency deadline. Given how the NHL landscape has shifted recently, these talks are going to be of great importance as it seems things are transpiring for Suter to at least test the free-agent waters.
The Detroit Red Wings — rumored to be one of Suter’s main suitors — have both a No. 1 defenseman spot and $6.2 million available now that captain Nicklas Lidstrom has retired.
Yesterday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted that — based on the current CBA and Hockey Related Revenue — the upcoming salary cap would be $70.3 million, meaning a whole bunch of teams could have spending money to throw at Suter.
Of course, the CBA expires on Sept. 15 and nobody knows for certain where the cap will end up.
It should also be noted that Nashville is one of the teams with surplus cap space. The Preds could have as much as $38 million available, though they do have a number of key RFAs and UFAs in addition to Suter: Shea Weber, Sergei Kostitsyn, Alexander Radulov, Colin Wilson, Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad, Jordin Tootoo, Hal Gill and Anders Lindback.
Making some of his most pointed comments to date, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber appeared on a Vancouver radio station Thursday and expressed disappointment with teammate Alex Radulov.
Radulov, along with Andrei Kostitsyn, was suspended for Game 3 of the Phoenix series for violating curfew. Radulov and Kostitsyn were also held out of Game 4 (called a “hockey decision” by head coach Barry Trotz) and the Preds wound up losing the series in five.
Weber called the incident a “distraction” and “unfortunate.” When asked by host Bob Marjanovich about being part of the Nashville leadership group that asked GM David Poile to bring Radulov back from the KHL, Weber replied:
“I don’t really know what to say about it because I was one of the guys that stood up for him and wanted him back. There were a bunch of us that played with him that felt the same way.
“You feel a little bit betrayed, but I am sure he feels bad about it now and he looks back on it and wishes it didn’t happen. Those are the things you can’t take back and we’ve got to move forward.”
You can listen to the full interview here. Weber also discusses teammate and impending UFA Ryan Suter (they haven’t spoken since season’s end, but Weber plans to speak with him soon), his current RFA status and the notion he’d like to play in Vancouver — something the Norris-nominated defenseman quickly shot down.
“That’s not something that I think about,” Weber said. “I think about playing for the Nashville Predators right now and winning a Stanley Cup.”