Alexander Radulov was drafted in 2004, 15th overall by the Nashville Predators and quickly proved himself at the NHL level with a solid rookie campaign. Adding his experience to the roster would go a long way for the Detroit Red Wings.
It is unlikely Radulov would be the biggest player on the ice, but he is listed at 6’1”, 200-pounds and would definitely bulk-up a small Red Wings group of 5-foot-somethings. He turns 30 in July and still has lots of good hockey left in him.
So let’s take a look at what else Radulov would bring to Detroit.
Radulov tallied 44 goals and 95 points for Nashville in 145 games from 2006-08 before heading home to Russia. Radulov then joined Ufa Salavat Yulayev for the next four years, where he scored 91 goals and 254 points in 210 games.
He then returned to Nashville for the end of the 2011-12 season, potted three goals and seven points in nine regular season games, and another goal and five assists in eight playoff games. That leaves Radulov with 47 goals, 102 points, a career shooting percentage of 15.7 and a career plus-29 rating.
Upon Nashville being eliminated from the playoffs, Radulov would return home again, where he has spent the past four seasons playing for CSKA Moscow. During his time with CSKA, Radulov has scored 78 goals and 238 points in 181 games.
Third Time is the Charm?
The Detroit Red Wings were one of the first teams rumored to be interested in Radulov, and the rumors have continued linking the two sides for a few months now. Ken Holland has been doing some background checking on Radulov to find out what kind of teammate and locker room guy he is.
Radulov was rumored to be unhappy during his time with Nashville, as well as having a large ego and curfew problems that resulted in his benching by then-coach Barry Trotz. But word is, so far during Holland’s digging, that Radulov is no longer the egocentric, headache-causing problem he was in his early-twenties.
Friends and teammates of Radulov cite his daughter and his family in helping put his off-ice antics behind him.
Told Radulov's actual priorities in the #NHL are: 1. winning, he wants to play for a contender; 2. family comfort; money is not a big factor
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 25, 2016
While Detroit isn’t the annual contender it has prided itself in being in the past 25 years, making the playoffs consistently (backing in or not), is the first step to a Stanley Cup.
Radulov in a top-six role next season would be a definite boost for the Red Wings because of his ability to match the speed of the younger guys, his hockey IQ and his goal-scoring touch. He is also a veteran presence who captained CSKA and brings a lot of experience to a very young Detroit team.
The biggest sticking point in Holland luring Radulov to Detroit is most likely going to be the contract. Holland almost certainly views re-signing his RFAs as a higher priority over Radulov. Holland has all summer to re-sign the RFAs but Radulov won’t hang around that long, even with Elliotte Friedman’s report of Detroit as the most-likely team to land Radulov.
There is a lot of risk in signing Radulov to a long-term contract only to watch him bolt for the KHL again. But long-term is what Radulov is seeking, and even if money is not, he’ll still probably be looking for $5 million or more per year.
Radulov should be given a year to adapt to the different style of play from the KHL to the NHL, and that is why Holland should look to bring him in for a minimum of two years and possibly a maximum of three.
Money is less of an issue if Holland can find a way to move Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit, and in a perfect world, Jimmy Howard and his $5.3 million cap hit as well.
Radulov will need to show he can still contribute regularly and continue to score goals at the pace he has during his career in both the NHL and KHL.