Alex Radulov officially rejoined the Nashville Predators on Wednesday: Meeting the media, rocking his yellow sweater with a familiar No. 47 and skating with his new teammates.
But his return to Nashville is also very much about his old teammates, too: Defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, whose impending free agency has this franchise at a crossroads.
According to ESPN, Weber, the team's captain, was polled by Poile three weeks ago to make sure that Radulov's return didn't rock the dressing room's chemistry.
"He didn't want to bring a guy over that we're going to be shunning and not welcoming into our room," Weber told Pierre LeBrun. "He's the kind of player that we know what he's about, we played with him, he's a good kid, we're excited to get it going here."
In bringing back Radulov, the Predators have added a potent offensive player an arsenal that already ranks in the Top 10 for the NHL. Combine that with the moves the team made at the trade deadline — Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad among them — and Poile has aggressively built a contender in the West.
But are these moves also an attempt to convince Suter, an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Weber, a restricted free agent one year away from UFA status, to remain in Nashville?
"Absolutely," Poile said.
He said the Predators have made strides as a franchise, as a gate attraction and as Stanley Cup contender. Nashville brings Radulov back not only as a significant addition for this Cup run, but potentially as a piece of the core going forward.
"We've talked to him about hoping that this lasts longer, and I think he feels the same way," said Poile. "In conversations with Alex and his agent, there's no timetable. No pressure. If this is the right fit, that's great, and we'll live happily ever after."
Fairytale endings aside, there's the issue of money. Cap Geek projects the Preds will have $32.3 million under the current cap heading into the summer, with Suter, Weber, Radulov, the Kostitsyns and Colin Wilson among the unsigned.
Is there enough room under the cap and in the budget to bring back Suter, Weber and Radulov?
"It's hard to answer a hypothetical question like that now," Poile said. "My wish is to sign everybody on our team. We're in a good position by and large. We're one of the youngest teams in the League. I think all the most important players on our team aren't even in their prime."