Barry Trotz is certainly familiar with the development of Alexander Radulov.
The two worked together in Nashville when Radulov was just starting out in the NHL, showing all the signs of a young, talented breakout player for the Predators.
But there were rocky moments in the working relationship, most notably during the 2012 post-season when Trotz benched Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn in the midst of a series for breaking curfew. To make a long story short, Radulov signed with CSKA Moscow in the KHL the following season.
That was a long time ago. The two have since gone their separate ways.
Trotz is coaching the Washington Capitals, who most recently shut out the L.A. Kings on Sunday and should be a strong contender for the Stanley Cup a few months from now. Radulov signed a one-year, $5.75 million deal last summer with Montreal, where he is enjoying an impressive comeback season.
Radulov has been worth the money — and worth any risk that may have accompanied the deal. He entered today’s game versus Edmonton with 13 goals and 41 points in 51 games. Versus the Oilers, he was held off the score sheet, as the Habs lost 1-0 in the shootout.
And yeah, Trotz has taken notice of Radulov’s resurgence in the NHL. He recalled to reporters following Saturday’s game between the Capitals and Habs how he expressed his praise to Montreal GM Marc Bergevin for the signing.
“I think he understands the whole game … that most young guys, when they’re the best players on the ice, maybe don’t understand all the stuff that goes on,” said Trotz of Radulov.
“He’s a dynamic player. He’s been a great signing for the Canadiens. I was telling (Bergevin) that’s a great signing. That’s … maybe the best signing of the year.”
Now, what will his next contract look like?
With his 31st birthday coming up in July, term should be the most intriguing element of any new deal. But, based on comments from his agent earlier this season, Radulov can see his relationship with the Habs lasting beyond just one season.