It turns out Alexander Radulov is returning to the NHL after all.
The Russian forward has agree to terms on a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens worth $5.75 million.
Radulov confirmed his desire to return to the NHL back in April but reports surfaced last week that he had balked and would instead remain in the KHL. Well, it turns out the soon-to-be-30-year-old balked again and decided to give the NHL another go.
The Canadiens fan base was up in arms earlier this week after the team traded fan favourite P.K. Subban to the Predators for Shea Weber, so it will be interesting to see the reaction out of Montreal. The Radulov signing is another polarizing move due to the fact he has been criticized in the past for having character issues.
“It’s a gamble, for sure,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters. “I met face to face with him and I talked to lot of people — Shea Weber who played with him in Nashville and (CSKA Moscow GM) Sergei Fedorov who had him as his captain. I did the homework but, at the end of the day, it’s still a gamble.”
The 15th overall pick from 2004 played two years with the Nashville Predators (2006-07 and ’07-08) before leaving for the KHL where he spent four seasons with Ufa Salavat Yulayev. He returned to the Preds in the spring of 2012 but Radulov’s second NHL stint in Nashville was short-lived after he and then-teammate Andrei Kostitsyn were suspended during the playoffs for violating team curfew. The pair was reportedly out partying until 5 a.m. the night before Game 2 of a second-round series against the Coyotes.
“What happened in the past is in the past,” Radulov said. “I made a mistake and I’m not trying to say it wasn’t my mistake. Yes, I did it. But time goes by and you look back at what you should or should not have done. The NHL is the best league. I feel good and I really want to come back and play against the best players and try to win a Stanley Cup.”
Radulov is familiar with playing hockey in Quebec. He spent two seasons with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, registering 227 points in 127 games from 2004-2006.
Despite all the distractions that ailed him with the Predators, Radulov has reportedly matured in recent years. When he’s on his game, Radulov is a world class scorer. He had 47 goals and 102 points in 154 games with Predators and 492 points in 391 career KHL games.
“I like his skill level,” Bergevin added. “You could argue that he was one of the highest skilled players that signed today. He’s a hard working kid. The compete level has always been there. And the term was very important to us too.”