The eagle has landed. And boy howdy, this is exciting. I’m not excited just for this year, but for the coming years. There were some pointed quotes regarding the future of Alex Radulov and his KHL contract. It really sounds like David Poile is holding the ace now, and he doesn’t give a damn.
This is a welcome change.
Firstly, check out this- a video the team hastily thrown together. (sadly, no clips from Ufa)
He’s back. How good is he? I’d conservatively liken him to a more energetic Marian Hossa level of player. He creates space, great speed, creative, and decent shot. He’s not Malkin, but for a team that would’ve been overjoyed with a Mike Richards type, Alex Radulov is more than enough to quench the thirst of a fanbase clammering for a goal scorer since it’s inception.
The big story of the day: the press conference. This, folks, was a clinic. Whatever the statement that KHL head Medvedev delivered the other day about Radulov returning to Russia, Poile is having none of it. Not too sure how this is shaping up going forward, but that mentality is powerful. He’s an RFA this summer, just like Weber. How much will the bank be opened up? No idea, but Poile sounds anxious to start signing some deals. Again, that’s a welcome change. Since when has mild-mannered David Poile ever been this bullish about acquiring talent? And keeping talent?
Here are some of the key quotes from today’s presser:
“Well, you know, I was talking to David four years all the time,” Radulov said. “It’s a good opportunity for me to come back and, basically, my contract is over in KHL and I always thought about making comeback and making my return back to the NHL. It’s a good League and all the best players are playing here. In Russia, it’s a good league, too, but I’ve been there for four years and missed a little bit the NHL … ”
“Now, I’m here. I’m happy to be here.”
Did you catch that? Radulov is saying his contract is over. David Poile said something similar. Either Alexander Medvedev was just posturing with his statements regarding Alex (and the Kostitsyn brothers), or he knows something neither Poile or Radulov know. Either way, I don’t think Poile/Predators care about this now, or even in the summer.
Radulov addressed the rumors further:
There have been reports Radulov might head back to the KHL after playing in Nashville’s final nine games and the playoffs. Poile said his understanding is Radulov has no obligations to his KHL team to return.
Radulov said the same.
“There’s been a lot of talking about it,” he said. “I didn’t say anything. I didn’t promise anything to anybody. I got an opportunity to move from Russia this summer, so that’s about it.”
Poile said his goal is to have “this relationship last longer than these last nine games and the playoffs.”
“Probably the story’s not over because we don’t know,” he said. “We don’t know how good he’s going to be, how good he’s going to fit in, how long it’s going to last.”
All the locker room photos and interviews sound downright rosy, so it’s possibly we can put to bed the whole idea that team chemistry will be at risk. Sure, they haven’t played a game yet. Only so much adrenaline can be conjured up in practice, the real test will be a packed house in Pittsburgh with the nation watching, or the home game on Saturday.
Two new questions have arose from the ashes of today’s massive PR victory:
- Who sits? It’s too bad Radulov can’t play center. A while ago, I wrote that Jordin Tootoo should be in rotation for the healthy scratch when Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad return. Brandon Yip has played about as well as you could ask a guy like Brandon Yip to play, and Matt Halischuk has taken a step forward playing on the spare parts line.
- Is there any excuse for Ryan Suter when it comes to a reason not to sign with Nashville now? The talent is here. The ownership/front office is definitely going for it. Beyond this year, it takes a couple dominoes to fall. Pekka Rinne can’t do it all himself (but he comes close most nights), but he’s here long-term. Ryan Suter is the next domino to fall in line. Momentum favors the front office right now, especially since the “one that got away” is back practicing in Nashville. Suter signing then puts the ball in Weber’s court, but with Suter and Rinne locked up it’s hard to imagine Weber not falling in line.
With nine games left, and a faint chance at catching St. Louis (depending on the next two nights) still possible, exciting times are still on the horizon. And look, Chicago could catch Detroit.