Despite ongoing rumors that Alexander Radulov may try to bring his talents back to the NHL next season, multiple reports are saying that he has signed a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express.
The report was almost immediately denied by Radulov’s agent, Yuri Nikolaev, who is calling the report “cheap propaganda.” He says that talks are ongoing, telling SovSport.ru, “We continue to talk and understand each other. But what will happen next – we’ll see. About [what stage we’re in] and when they will end, I will not speak now.”
The alleged deal is worth a reported 840 million rubles (apx. $10.8 million U.S.), according to KHL News on Twitter, who also first reported the agent’s denial in English.
The 29-year-old Radulov has been a dominant player year after year at almost every level he’s played. He has a reputation in North America for being difficult, but though he really only played significant time at ages 20 and 21 in the NHL, he posted 102 points in 154 career NHL games.
In his KHL career he’s averaged well over a point per game with 481 points in 384 career games. This year, he’s second in the KHL in total points with 20 goals and 54 points in 46 games. He sits second all-time in points in the KHL, just behind Sergei Mozyakin who has averaged 1.21 points per game to Radulov’s 1.25 points per game over their careers.
With a player who has been the face of Russian hockey in the KHL constantly rumored to be returning to the NHL, the KHL most certainly wants him to stick around. It seems particularly important next year when the KHL plans a significant expansion into China.
Radulov has been a divisive character in North America for heading back to Russia while his rights were owned by the Predators. When he returned it was a controversial moment when the league approved him rejoining the Predators just nine games before the start of the postseason.
During the postseason, he was famously suspended by the team, along with Andrei Kostitsyn, for being out past curfew. While it briefly seemed like the rumors of his return to the NHL would disappear, it doesn’t appear that they’re coming to an end quite yet.
Rumors floated over the summer that Radulov may have interest in playing for the Colorado Avalanche, as he played under Patrick Roy in the QMJHL during his time in juniors. Sovsport.ru did ask why he’s not going to the NHL and Nikolaev only said, “I would not like to comment on this in the press.” Asked if there have been NHL offers he gave a “No comment.”
While that all gets sorted out, watch Radulov don a few goalie pads in this weekend’s KHL All-Star game and make a save on a penalty shot during the game which ended in a score of KHL West 28-KHL East 23.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.