Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
He could be the most interesting player entering the free agent market and in a year that might feature Steven Stamkos, that’s saying a ton.
The glaring difference is that Stamkos is a known entity whereas Radulov, despite having previously played in the NHL, really isn’t. He’s been a star in the KHL for years now, but will that translate to the NHL? Will there be off-ice problems, as there was when he last attempted to return to Nashville in 2012?
At the same time, that brief 2012 stint with the Predators did give us a taste of what he might be capable of in North America as he finished the regular season with three goals and seven points in nine games. Most recently he recorded 71 in 46 games and 65 points in 53 contests in each of his last two KHL seasons, which is more prolific than what Artemi Panarin did before he made the shift to Chicago.
So to say that Radulov, who will turn 30 on July 5th, has the potential to be an impact player isn’t an overstatement. But that’s not the only consideration teams need to make.
In an ideal scenario for NHL suitors, Radulov would accept a one-year trial contract for the 2016-17 campaign with the understanding that he’ll receive his big payday next summer if all goes well. However, he’s reportedly looking for a two-year, $15 million deal. That’s a huge gamble for any team to take on a player that’s played in nine NHL games since 2008-09, no matter how much potential he has.
Is there a team that might sign him in spite of all of that? Well, Detroit was previously linked to Radulov, but they were reportedly looking at a deal in the $4 million to $5 million range for a single season, so unless Radulov’s demands are much lower than has been suggested or he’s willing to back down considerably, they might be priced out of the market.
Other teams that have been linked to Radulov include the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers.
Of course, this all comes down to what Radulov is willing to settle for. Would an insistence on a lucrative multi-year deal price him out of the market? By contrast is he willing to accept a one-year deal if that’s what’s available to him?
There’s so many X-factors with him. Hence why it will be so interesting to see how this unfolds.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.