Preds GM: Radulov may renege on KHL

By Mike Brophy
Hockey Columnist

David Poile would welcome Alexander Radulov back with open arms. And he may soon get that opportunity.

The Nashville Predators general manager said Tuesday he believes the 22-year-old right winger is having second thoughts about bolting the Predators to sign with the Kontinental Hockey League. Radulov signed the deal with the Russian start-up league even though he has a year remaining on his deal with the Predators.

“I was caught by surprise when he signed (to play in Rusia) and I think if you asked his North American agent he would say the same thing,” Poile said at the board of governors meeting in Toronto. “It was always his dream to play in the NHL, the best league in the world, just like Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk, other young Russian stars.”

There has been speculation Radulov, who was third in team scoring with 26 goals and 58 points in 81 games last season, would like to return to the NHL. KHL president Alexander Medvedev said an agreement between his league and the NHL was only a “gentleman’s agreement,” and did not apply to the Radulov case. The NHL disagrees.

In other news, the NHL said it does not have plans to lower the salary cap, but is paying close attention to the softening economy in both the United States and Canada. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said revenues went up nine per cent last season and the cap was raised accordingly.

Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin said the sinking Canadian dollar is not of an immediate concern to the league, but if it drops further, it could be.

“We have no problem with the dollar being at 93 or 94 cents,” Boivin said. “Now if it drops seven or eight more cents then it becomes a big issue.”