After all the twists and turns, it looks like Alexander Radulov made his decision whether to return to the Nashville Predators this season.
Radulov's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev, in a conversation with Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov, confirmed that Alexander Radulov wants to play for Nashville this season.
But Radulov's KHL club Salavat Yulaev has not granted their permission -- yet.
"We are talking with Salavat's management. No one is delaying this matter. But what can you do if the contract runs through April 30? I am pleading to somehow resolve this problem. But I cannot find arguments yet." Nikolaev told Lysenkov.
It is clear that Radulov wants to leave and the club is indeed willing to let him go. So, what is the hold-up?
"If you think it's that easy, then open the KHL Regulations. After the start of the playoffs a club cannot unilaterally 'fire' a player. Even with a compensation (to the player)," Nikolaev explained.
"A hockey player can unilaterally terminate his contract, but then he will be subject to sanctions that mean a big sum of money."
[A player can terminate his contract in the KHL by paying 2/3 of the contract value.]
"But the most reasonable option is for the club and the player to terminate their contract by mutual consent. There are a lot of examples of that happening," Nikolaev continued.
But the problem is, according to Nikolaev, that "Salavat Yulaev will lose rights to Radulov [if they agree to terminate the contract]. And it's not something Ufa wants to do. Alexander can leave for Nashville next season and Salavat will retain his rights. But I haven't found a mechanism yet to allow Radulov to leave for the NHL right now."
Nikolaev advises everyone not to expect the radical step from Radulov — just bolting.
"We are under the KHL jurisdiction and this matter must be resolved in a legally sound way." Nikolaev said. "We don't want to break the law. Nashville made a very good offer to Radulov that he could satisfy the entire last year of his entry level contract by playing a few games. We are searching for the right way out that would allow Alex to go to the NHL."
Radulov and his agent were set to have a meeting with the KHL yesterday. That meeting, however, did not take place. A senior KHL official told Lysenkov that that meeting will still take place. "I know that Radulov will speak with [KHL President] Alexander Medvedev today or tomorrow."
It seems like it is up to the KHL to ensure that the player's wishes (to leave for the NHL right now) and the club's interests (not to lose rights to Radulov) fall within the KHL regulations. But that just means more waiting.
If ESPN had a branch in Russia, they would probably do an hour special on where Radulov would take his talents (South Broadway?).