Last week, we kept you updated about the situation surrounding Alex Radulov's return to the Nashville Predators. On Monday morning, there's now an official word — Alexander Radulov will rejoin the Predators for the remainder of the season (at least) and their Stanley Cup run.
This morning, Radulov's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev confirmed on the record that the Russian forward is indeed coming back to the NHL. In an exclusive with Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport, Nikolaev said that "the matter has been resolved within the framework of the KHL Regulations. Alexander is leaving for Nashville."
It will still be interesting to see how both sides got around certain provisions of the League regulations. But Nikolaev said "you can say that the contract has been bought out.
"Ufa [Salavat Yulaev] didn't go for the termination of contract by mutual consent. Radulov submitted a written request to leave [unilaterally]," he said. "He is losing his KHL salary that must be paid to him until April 30. But the Ufa club is keeping rights to the player. Radulov has contractual obligations with Salavat for the 2012-2013 season."
Radulov flew from Moscow to Ufa yesterday. While there was some thought that he'd have to rejoin Salavat Yulaev for the off-ice workouts -- KHL teams keep players practicing, having workouts even after a team bows out of the playoffs until April 30, the final day of any player's contract -- Radulov was there to pack his belongings.
Nikolaev explained: "There is a certain procedure that we didn't violate. Radulov spoke with the head coach Vener Safin, GM Oleg Gross, General Director Rustam Ishalin. He had to thank people for their work.
"Again, [Radulov] took the opportunity to satisfy his remaining contract in the NHL. Everything has been done cleanly and honestly. It does not appear as an escape. This is a civilized parting of ways as a result of personal finances. If Alexander had wanted to run off, he would have done it right after getting knocked out of the Gagarin Cup."
The most intriguing part is that it was not Radulov himself who bought out the remainder of this year's contract. (Radulov is signed in the KHL through next summer). Nikolaev made it very clear, but at the same time he did not want to disclose who the rich "benefactor" was.
But the fact that whoever this undisclosed person or entity is, they only bought out about a month of Radulov's deal, and not the entire remainder.
What does this mean for Radulov?
Nikolaev added: "We have a contract with Salavat Yulaev on our hands. With a reservation that Alexander has a right to spend the 2012-2013 season overseas. After July 1 he will become a [restricted] free agent in the NHL and Nashville will make a contract offer. We will have something to compare it to, something to think about. If Radulov picks Nashville and there is a lockout, Alex will come back to Ufa without a problem. Or he will decide to start the new season in the KHL right away. Everything is in his hands."
Anyone can agree that this is a very sweet deal for Radulov. He keeps his multi-million dollar KHL deal as a fallback and a bargaining chip when he negotiated with the Predators this summer.
At the same time, he has an unprecedented opportunity to satisfy an NHL contract in just 10 games, playoffs not included!
In the words of Alex Ovechkin, "It's good to be Radulov."
(An aside: Radulov's example is now being discussed as applied to Capitals' prospect Yevgeni Kuznetsov. Radulov showed that you can do pretty much as you please, as long as you have the talent and can show for it, and the NHL will still want you back. There has already been one suggestion that Kuznetsov signs an entry level contract with Washington and try to get them to agree that he would play in the KHL next season regardless while that year would be written off his entry level NHL deal. Quite an interesting precedent.)
"We have been in contact with Jay Grossman, Alexander's agent, throughout this process of trying to return Alexander to the Predators and the NHL. Though the complicated process has yet to be concluded, every indication is that Alexander will be returning to Nashville in the near future. We do not anticipate having any further update on this process until tomorrow, at the earliest."