The Nashville Predators do not see Alexander Radulov in their plans for next season. David Poile, the team's general manager, told Josh Cooper that it would be "safe to say" right now that this is indeed the case.
Poile added "[If] he wants to play in the KHL, that's fine. If he wants to play with another NHL team, I'd be willing to trade his rights."
There was a lot made about Radulov coming to the Predators in the first place. But let's face it: It wasn't even necessary to read between the lines that the Predators offered Radulov a pretty sweet deal — to satisfy an entire year of an NHL contract in just 10 regular-season games. Radulov's Russian agent said as much.
Despite all the right words that were said during the press conference, it was always clear that the KHL was expecting Radulov back.
He did have one year remaining on his KHL deal with Salavat Yulaev. KHL President Medvedev wasn't worried at all about losing the league's main star when he said that Radulov did not "intend to sign any long-term contract with Nashville. Alexander will satisfy his old contract by playing the end of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then he will become a restricted free agent in accordance with NHL rules. After that [when Radulov turns 27 and he becomes an unrestricted free agent] he will have a right to sign a contract with any NHL club."
He continued: "But we believe that next season Alexander will come back to the KHL where the rights to him belong to Ufa. And how [the club] handles those rights, it is up to Salavat Yulaev."
Following the notorious benching and the alleged very late-night partying in Arizona, the KHL's Medvedev even voiced his own conspiracy theory that the benching was in fact not for the partying, but as retaliation for Radulov's refusal to sign with the Predators long term.
After having a successful surgery on his knee that had been bothering Radulov since the end of the KHL regular season, he returned to Russia where Salavat Yulaev, his KHL team, was in negotiations with a number of KHL clubs regarding trading his rights. SKA from St. Petersburg was in the running before saying the asking price was "too much."
SKA's General Manager Alexei Kasatonov told Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov that Savalat was "negotiating with CSKA. Almost everything has been agreed upon."
CSKA, fueled by the money injected into the club by Russian oil company Rosneft, is looking to add a star to become more competitive. The club itself, however, through its general manager Sergei Fedorov, declined to comment issuing a statement that read:
"CSKA at this time is refraining from comments on this matter. Of course we would be happy to see Alexander Radulov on our team. If this player signs with our club we will be happy to share this great news on our official website."
At this time, it looks imminent that Radulov will play for CSKA in the KHL next season. According to our information, Sergei Fedorov is in North America right now and the CSKA does not want to announce the signing without its general manager.
The Predators surely knew about this development and are now trying to trade his rights. That's because there will still be hope that until Radulov officially commits to the KHL next year, he may potentially stay in the NHL if the club his NHL rights are traded to would be interesting to him.
Radulov's Russian agent blasted NBC's hockey analysts for their criticism of Radulov, as well as Poile's comments that Radulov's not in their plans. Asked if it was political Yuri Nikolaev said:
"I cannot comment on that. But if Radulov right away had signed the long term contract that the Predators were offering him, then I can assure you that no David Poile would have opened his mouth. Are you skeptical? Who would take the bad out in the open writing in the papers unimportant facts from the biography of a player who you could build your team around?
"But Radulov picked another way, to become a free agent in the summer."
So the Predators did offer Radulov a contract. And he refused to sign it, providing more evidence that he only came back to Nashville to burn the last year of his entry-level deal.