Why did KHL allow Alex Radulov to leave for Nashville? Because they expect him back next season

As we told you earlier today, Alex Radulov will join the Nashville Predators for their playoff push after the rest of his contract year in the KHL was bought out.

In an exclusive interview with Pavel Lysenkov of SovSport, KHL President Alexander Medvedev said Radulov leaves for the NHL without protest from the League or his team, Ufa Salavat Yulaev.

"Alexander Radulov met with the League representatives and I met with his agent. I will tell you right now so that there is no reason for speculation and rumors: This season Alexander is leaving in full compliance with the KHL Regulations," said Medvedev.

"Radulov's departure turned out to be civilized. It's not a coincidence on Monday Alexander and his agent flew to Ufa. And the fact that he will play in the NHL… We will hope that Nashville, even stronger with the Kostitsyn brothers and Radulov, won't last long in the Stanley Cup, and Alexander gets free in time for the Russian National team."

This is a unique situation for the KHL. Radulov had the rest of this season bought out; Ufa retains his rights for the last year of his KHL contract in 2012-13, when he'll also be a restricted free agent in the NHL.

Medvedev had some interesting speculation and information about Radulov's future; like the fact he expects the Nashville Predators winger back in the KHL this fall, rather than with the Predators on a new contract.

Via Lysenkov, Medvedev said:

"He does not intend to sign any long term contract with Nashville. Alexander will satisfy his old contract by playing the end of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then he will become a restricted free agent in accordance with NHL rules. After that [when Radulov turns 27 and he becomes an unrestricted free agent] he will have a right to sign a contract with any NHL club.

"But we believe that next season Alexander will come back to the KHL where the rights to him belong to Ufa. And how [the club] handles those rights, it is up to Salavat Yulaev."

Medvedev previously didn't expect Radulov to leave Ufa after the season, but the buyout of the contract allowed for the departure. From SovSport:

Q. Is my understanding correct that Radulov's contract was bought out for a few million dollars?

MEDVEDEV: "I will not name the source of the financing. But the amount is certainly not that big. We are talking about the remainder of this contract — it is a month and a half, until April 30, 2012."

And if Radulov, after becoming a restricted free agent in the NHL, extends his contract with Nashville and decides to continue his career there?

MEDVEDEV: "Then he will have to buy out his entire contract from Salavat Yulaev for the 2012-2013 season. That's why I want to believe that Alexander will start next season in the KHL."

My thoughts on the matter: Another year in the KHL pushes Alex Radulov that much closer to unrestricted free agent status in the NHL, which is where the real money is. Throw in the potential lockout in the NHL, and Radulov's stay in North America could be brief.