Behind Alexander Radulov's secretive contract extension in the KHL

Alexander Radulov(notes) was the first NHL player with a bright future ahead of him to jump to the KHL when the league opened for business in 2008.

Radulov signed a 3-year contract with Ufa's Salavat Yulaef for $8 million, got suspended by the Nashville Predators and became the prime sticking point in the war or words that followed between the NHL and the KHL. Last season Radulov was named KHL's MVP.

Late yesterday, reported that Radulov signed a 3-year extension to his contract with Salavat Yulaef of the KHL. The news came as a surprise as many expected to see Radulov back in the NHL next season.

As it turned out, the initial report of a 3-year extension is not entirely accurate. Puck Daddy, with the help of Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport found out that Radulov signed a 2-year extension (he has one year left on his current deal), a fact confirmed by Oleg Gross, Salavat Yulaef's GM, to Lysenkov.

Also, Radulov signed at the end of August, right before the NHL visited Russia to play two games against KHL clubs, for the first time in 20 years; right before the two leagues signed an official agreement to respect each other's contracts.

It is very unusual and strange that the news of KHL's reigning MVP signing an extension was not reported when it happened. Why such secrecy?

Radulov's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev downplayed any concerns, telling Lysenkov that it was a simple straightforward deal.

Nevertheless, Nikolaev did say that Radulov really took his time to think things through when the offer of an extension was made because he did keep the NHL in mind.

What was the reason behind staying in the KHL? Nikolaev explained:

"Let's look at it from the point of view of Radulov's careers. The CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA will expire in the next couple of years. If Radulov's contract expired next year, he would have one more year to wait until the new CBA in North America. The NHLPA now has new people with their new vision of things, and no one understands when and how the new CBA is going to be signed and what may happen if the new CBA is not signed in time. That's why we decided to wait and see what is going to happen over there, and what CBA will be signed. And then we will have a choice."

Radulov decided to extend his contract in the KHL to cover a possible lockout. His agent confirmed that the player didn't consider coming back to the NHL until the new CBA is signed.

After that? Who knows? Something tells me a lot will depend on what is going to happen to the final year of his entry level deal with the Predators.

"I have no interest in what's going on with Nashville," Nikolaev told Lysenkov.

When Radulov's contract in the KHL expires, he will be 27 years old. Nikolaev said that both the player and his agent held that number in mind when Radulov signed his extension, hoping that if Radulov does come back to the NHL, he will be considered a free agent. But for now, Radulov is staying in the KHL for the next three years.

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