Report: Term the big sticking point between Radulov, Canadiens

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It’s easy to forget all the years Alexander Radulov spent overseas and to assume that he’s in the beginning of his prime. The reality is that he’s already 30, making a long-term deal considerably riskier for the Montreal Canadiens.

During Saturday’s edition of Sportsnet’s Headlines, Nick Kypreos reported that Radulov is looking for a six-year deal from Montreal. Failing that, the Habs might need to pay up big for a shorter deal; Kypreos puts a potential compromise at a costly $21 million over three years.

Elliotte Friedman said it well during that segment: Radulov would likely be a top target if he hit the free agent market. So, should Montreal pay up?

Canadiens’ cap questions

Looking at the Canadiens’ roster on Cap Friendly, it’s clear that there’s a select group of players – particularly forwards – who have lengthy deals. And if they do, they’re generally locked up for bargains.

Max Pacioretty‘s $4.5 million bargain runs through 2018-19. Brendan Gallagher‘s at $3.75 million through 2020-21. Andrew Shaw‘s value is more up to debate, but either way, it’s similar to Gallagher’s but ends after 2021-22.

With the lengthier deals generally going to cheaper scorers, the highest cap hit among forwards right now is Tomas Plekanec, whose $6 million mark slightly edges Radulov’s current $5.75 million hit. If Montreal wants to sign Radulov for a shorter deal, Kypreos indicates it would be similar to Plekanec’s deal … just more expensive.

The biggest deals on the books right now are actually for defense (Shea Weber at almost $8 million through 2025-26) and Jeff Petry ($5.5 million through 2020-21). Overall, the Canadiens have a fairly clean slate, all things considered.

How big a part of their future is Radulov, really?

On one hand, some might see a relatively clean cap situation beyond that Weber deal and wonder if that “surplus” could go to a Radulov deal.

Of course, a longer Radulov deal would possibly put Montreal in a bind when they need to re-sign Carey Price after 2017-18 and pay Pacioretty closer to market value once his deal expires. Not to mention Alex Galchenyuk‘s pending RFA status after this season.

That’s the downside to Radulov being such a smash hit for Montreal. Now Marc Bergevin must determine if he’s a core member or if it’s worth paying a premium to give him something a bit more mid-term.

It’s not the worst problem to have, yet it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. It also explains why Radulov doesn’t have a deal just yet.