Could Radulov be returning to Nashville…soon?

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The Nashville City Paper ran a really interesting article over the weekend, titled “Is Alexander Radulov the final piece to a Stanley Cup for Predators?”

In it, David Boclair examines the possibility of Radulov returning to play in Nashville for the first time since bolting to Russia (signing with KHL club Ufa Salavat Yulayev) in 2008.

More, from the City Paper:

All the necessary mechanisms for him to resume his NHL career with Nashville are in place. Because he signed with the KHL while he still had a year remaining on his entry-level deal, the NHL froze his contract. If, or when, he ever returns, he is bound by that remaining year, and any progress toward unrestricted free agency must be satisfied in the years that follow.

There actually is incentive for Radulov to come back late in this — or any — season. According to [Preds GM David] Poile, if he plays just one regular-season game, he satisfies the remaining year of his contract, which sends him into the ensuing offseason as a restricted free agent.

It’s not as if he ever completely cut ties to Middle Tennessee either. He maintains a residence and an automobile here, and his parents come to town several times a year (as recently as December they attended a Predators game). According to one local real estate source, he’s in the process of refinancing his Nashville residence in a manner consistent with someone who plans for a decrease in income.

Few other things to note:

— When Radulov bolted Nashville, he was 22 and the third-leading scorer on a veteran-laden team (led by J.P. Dumont and Jason Arnott.) Apparently there was some friction there — during Game 3 of the 2008 playoff series against Detroit, he celebrated one of his goals so enthusiastically that he rammed Arnott into the boards, forcing him out of the series with a concussion.

— Now the team’s leaders are Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, both good friends of Radulov’s.

“We didn’t really have girlfriends or wives here, it was just fun,” Suter said of their early days in Nashville. “When he was here, me, Webs and Rads hung out a lot. He was a fun guy to be around.”

— Radulov has torn apart the KHL since going over (last year he had 80 points in 54 regular season games). To emphasize, I’ll leave you with this quote from Poile:

“He’s a top-six forward that a lot of people would say we’re missing. He’s the best player not playing in the NHL.”