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Alex Radulov signs 4-year KHL contract; will NHL ever see him again?

Dmitry Chesnokov
Puck Daddy

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Alexander Radulov's Russian agent announced two weeks ago that the player will spend the next season in the KHL.

At the time, CSKA acquired Radulov's KHL rights from Salavat Yulaev for around $8 million. CSKA also sweetened the pot for Radulov by signing his brother, Igor, to play alongside him.

On Monday, the news came that Radulov signed a four-year contract with the Moscow club. Radulov is set to make 300 million rubles per year, around $9.2 million.

CSKA, backed by the Russian oil giant Rosneft, also issued a statement from Sergei Fedorov, the club's general manager:

"Some time ago we promised that if Alexander Radulov signs a contract, CSKA would announce it on its official website.  Today I can proudly say that this long awaited event took place at last. Alexander Radulov signed a four year contract with the club.

"Without any doubt Alexander is one of the most exciting Russian hockey players of the last few years. On the ice he differs from the rest with his great dedication, high speed, excellent vision of the ice and the goal scoring intelligence of an extra class sniper. We know that these leadership qualities will help him become the leader of our team, and on our side we will do everything for it. We hope that more and more fans will come to the [arena] to see Alexander Radulov play."

Sources inside the team tell me the move to sign Radulov was driven purely by the new ownership of CSKA, who took over the club amid scandals last year.

Vyacheslav Fetisov, one of the executives of the club at the time, left him hockey alma mater, accusing the then general manager Sergei Nemchinov of being "a weak coach, a weak manager and an even weaker person."

The decision to go after Radulov by the team was made well before Sergei Fedorov was even considered for the post of the club's general manager.

A member of the upper house of the Russian Parliament Alexander Pochinok, former Minister of Taxation of Russia, in an interview with Finam FM radio in Russia said the following:

"…Hockey is great and all that.  But when I see a contract that is being entered into with one of our hockey players for 1.2 billion rubles, then I apologize, but this is [too much]…"

While Pochinok didn't name Radulov specifically, the context of the interview and the fact that there is only one signing of this magnitude in the KHL, Alexander Radulov is the person implied.  1.2 billion rubles translates to 300 million per year, which is over $9 million in today's exchange rate.

The four-year contract, if honored fully by Radulov, virtually means that he will likely never come back to the NHL.

Radulov turns 26 in a few days and will be 30 by the time his KHL contracts runs out.  When Radulov came back to Nashville, the assumption was always that Radulov would burn the last year of his NHL contract, come back to the KHL and play there until the Olympics and then move back to the NHL as an unrestricted free agent.

Today's news makes it all pretty much impossible now.

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