While Alex Radulov continues to mull a return to the National Hockey League — and while the KHL no doubt continues to pressure one of its biggest stars to remain in Russia — some of the loose ends in North America are being knotted up regarding his status with the Nashville Predators.
What's been established: That Radulov would return to the Predators to fulfill the final year of his current contract, making him a restricted free agent this summer with Nashville holding the rights.
What was undetermined: Whether Radulov would need to pass through waivers upon his return to the NHL, and whether he would be eligible not only for the regular season but for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Predators. Because that latter allowance could be a game-changer in the West.
In short: No he won't and yes he will.
Poile and Daly were in constant contact over the past week because the league had to rule on Radulov's possible re-entry to the NHL. A source told ESPN.com that the league decided Radulov would not require NHL waivers if he decided to return and he would be eligible for both the regular season and playoffs. Talk about a bonus for Nashville if that happens. And talk about some possibly angry NHL team rivals.
Should they have a right to feel angry about a top six winger joining the Predators for a Cup run? Elliotte Friedman of CBC writes:
A few of you asked why Radulov would be eligible for the playoffs. Checked with a couple of CBA experts and was told that anyone on a team's reserve list is good to go. He is on Nashville's.
So the Predators knew what they needed to do in order to get Radulov eligible for the postseason. We'd expect nothing less from David Poile. He's crafty.
If he returns, what the Predators have done with Radulov is entirely fair and entirely in the spirit of the CBA. This isn't some Ruotsalainen Rule nonsense where they're stashing Radulov overseas to keep him fresh or, in this day and age, avoid the salary cap penalty. First, because the Predators were aggressively attempting to get him back to the NHL rather than have him stay in Russia; second because it's not as if that $918,578 cap hit was going to cripple their finances or handcuff their player transactions.
Check out more on Radulov from Red Light Hockey. Here's Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck talking about whether Radulov will fit in the Predators' dressing room, given the team's excellent chemistry: