According to the Russian website Sport-Express, Alexander Radulov seems to have reached an agreement with his KHL team Ufa Salavat Yulayev, which will allow him to play for the Nashville Predators. Details are still coming in and we’re waiting for further confirmation, but Radulov’s return would be a huge boost for the Predators going into the playoffs.
Typically a returning NHL player coming in from Russia has to clear waivers, but Radulov is expected to be exempt from that process. He will also be eligible to play with Nashville in the postseason.
Radulov was a rapidly developing skilled forward in his first two seasons with Nashville. However, while he was still under contract, he decided to leave the team following the 2007-08 campaign to play in Russia. He has been a top-tier player in the KHL and by joining the Predators now, he will be able to burn the final season of his existing NHL deal. That will allow him to become a restricted free agent this summer.
It’s not hard to see how his return would benefit Nashville, but there are also potential drawbacks too. As Predators defenseman Ryan Suter recently pointed out, his team will have to walk a “fine line” to absorb a new and talented player this close to the start of the playoffs. It would also be interesting to see if some of the players that were there when he left the Predators will hold that against him.
Update (11:14pm): GM David Poile has spoken to Radulov’s agent and the plan was for him to head to Nashville on Friday, according to Predators coach Barry Trotz. At the time, the sticking point was his release from the Ufa Salavat Yulayev and that’s why he stayed in Russia longer. We still don’t have confirmation that Radulov has now secured that release.