The Dallas Stars started this summer with conviction when they traded for goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Marc Methot. Then they bolstered their forward corps when they signed former Coyotes and Wild center Martin Hanzal. Monday came and the Stars laid down the gauntlet, showing they are in “win now mode” by giving out the richest contract in 2017 unrestricted free agency. They signed Alexander Radulov to a five-year $31.25 million contract.
Radulov was wanted back by the Montreal Canadiens, but instead, went to a team willing to meet the terms he appeared to be demanding. The Stars now have another weapon in their top six and the Canadiens are left having to look for more scoring.
The Radulov Deal
Radulov was one of the top scorers available in unrestricted free agency this offseason and one of the big fish everyone was watching for. He had recently returned from Russia to join the Canadiens for a single season. That one year gave teams enough confidence to know that Radulov still had similar offensive upside and that his first stint in the NHL wasn’t a fluke.
With a history of immaturity at an NHL level and only one recent NHL season to back up these numbers, some may see this as somewhat of a risky play — a five-year term — but the Stars were willing to bet that Radulov could produce five more times, what he did in 2016-17. They may be hoping, with a strong offensive cast around him, Radulov’s production may actually jump.
His KHL to NHL Days
To Radulov’s credit, it wasn’t as if he’d fallen completely off the radar since leaving the NHL in 2008. He’d continually been one of the best players in Russia, so teams were aware he could still score. What they weren’t perhaps ready for, was the pace at which he could still score in the NHL.
During his one season in Montreal, Radulov recorded 18 goals and had 36 assists in 76 games. He shone offensively for a Montreal Canadiens team that was mostly known for its defense and stellar goaltending and only Max Pacioretty recorded more points for the Canadiens last season. In short, Radulov had earned the $5.75 million salary Montreal had given him to come back to the NHL.
He was a much better professional as well.
What Radulov Means for the Stars
Just recently, the Stars also signed center Martin Hanzal. He and Radulov join a core group of forwards led by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and give Dallas some very potent offensive options in their top six. With new coach Ken Hitchcock taking the reigns, the Stars are looking to make their way back to the playoffs after a disappointing 2016-17 season.
Dallas was also looking to make a move after losing Patrick Sharp and Ales Hemsky, all while understanding that Jason Spezza was on the decline. Radulov will be 31 years old in July, but he’s a stronger long-term offensive threat than any of those three previously mentioned forwards would have been for Dallas. With Hanzal and Radulov, the Stars have upgraded in a major way.
The market for forwards this summer was relatively weaker and with the Stars able to obtain both Radulov and Hanzal, they added two of the strongest options from the group. Whether the deal is a value contract or not will be determined in the coming years, but one thing is undeniable. The Dallas Stars just made a major statement on Monday.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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