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Radulov’s Value

One of the more interesting stories of the stretch run was the way the NHL broke its own rules to get Alexander Radulov to return despite the fact he may only be returning to the league for a handful of games at the end of one season and then return to Russia.  Radulov is playing essentially to get out of his entry level contract as fast as possible.  He is a restricted free agent this summer.  Next summer he will be old enough to be an unrestricted free agent.  Radulov’s game plan is to use this upcoming free agency to get a big money NHL contract.

This plan would not work so well if he returned to the NHL and failed.  That hasn’t been what has happened.  He has been arguably the best offensive player on Nashville since his return.

The Nashville Predators are not a team full of offensive stars.  Martin Erat led the team in regular season scoring with 58 points.  62 players in the league outscored and Predators in the regular season.  The Preds needed a big scorer and it looks like Radulov could be that guy.

Radulov was a top scorer in the KHL.  He scored seven points in nine games in the regular season as he was still adjusting to his new team.  In the first round playoff series with the Detroit Red Wings he has been the top scorer on the team.  He has five points in five games.  His +5 +/- rating is the second highest in the league in the playoffs.  Radulov is playing very well.  He isn’t the MVP of the playoffs so far, but he would be on a playoff all star team.  Given that he is still adjusting to a new team and probably could do better if he was better acclimatized, this is a very impressive record.

Alexander Radulov has played well in his NHL return.  This will only raise his value.  The question now is when will he cash in with a big NHL contract.  This summer he is a restricted free agent and that means that likely only Nashville will be bidding for his services.  Nashville is looking at their payroll rising significantly to keep Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in the fold.  It isn’t clear if Nashville wants to give Radulov a big contract or if Radulov wants to stay in Nashville longterm.  We may see Nashville trade Radulov’s rights to another NHL team who is more capable of signing him longterm.  If that doesn’t happen, Radulov will return to the KHL for a season and try his luck as a restricted free agent. 

Alexander Radulov has played well since returning to the NHL.  This serves to increase his NHL value.  Should Nashville make a deep Stanley Cup run with Radulov playing a prominent role, his value will really soar.  That is what he is hoping for.  That would make his next contract a very big one and that has been his end game all along.

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The NHL did not “break its own rules” to allow Radulov’s return.  He was a defected player with an existing contract and therefore was not subject to re-entry waivers.  He was officially suspended and on Nashville’s reserve list and thus eligible to return without waivers.

The waiver rule on re-entry was designed to stop NHL teams from warehousing unsigned players abroad and then signing them during the season when needed.  That was obviously not true of Radulov.

If you do not like the result, petition the NHL to change its rules.  But the existing rules were not “broken.”

Posted by urwrong on 04/22/12 at 03:43 PM ET


So if his contract ends at the end of this year, and he doesn’t sign with Nashville for 12-13 to come back in 13-14 as an UFA, doesn’t he have to go through re-entry waivers then?  Isn’t that what happened to Nabakov when Detroit tried to sign him but the Islanders ended up with him?

What team is going to go through all the work to get him to sign an UFA contract only to see someone lower in the pecking order grab him?

Posted by GregK8 on 04/22/12 at 03:53 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If the rules weren’t “broken” then why did the NHL and NHLPA agree to waive the requirement that Radulov go on waivers before returning to his team after playing in a foreign league after December 1st of a league year.

They absolutely broke their own rules and to categorize it otherwise is either foolish or naive.

What I’m wondering is what the league will do if the Predators take Radulov to arbitration before he runs back to Russia next season.  The Jiri Hudler precedent there would indicate that he would still be required to live by the arbitrator’s decision and sign whatever contract came out of that decision before truly getting UFA status.

I’m not sure the NHL would allow him to take his right to demand a one-year contract in arbitration, play next season in Russia, and then come back to the Predators late again so he could play out that one-year deal and become a true worldwide UFA with the ability to leverage both leagues against one another in a bidding war.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/22/12 at 03:59 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar


Should Radulov not sign for the 2012/13 season he will be a UFA for the 2013/14 season.  He just won’t return to the league for the handful of games that might remain at the end of the 2013/14 season and then sign as a free agent elsewhere might like Jaromir Jagr did last summer.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/22/12 at 04:41 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar


i]They absolutely broke their own rules and to categorize it otherwise is either foolish or naive.

It appears they did, but the lil’ dictator’s projects get their way. tin foil?? you betcha…...double thick.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/22/12 at 05:04 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

IMO the original Radulov return scenario is not quite as clear cut as some make it out to be.  I’ll give the standard Radulov is a scoundrel disclaimer, but ultimately it’s a matter of interpreting section 13 of the CBA.  If nothing else, it’s a technical argument, not a conspiracy.

A 20 year old first time signee is waiver exempt for the earlier of 160 games (NHL + AHL) or 3 “years” since first signing (which is illustrated in the examples contained in the CBA as “seasons”).  While Radulov had played 156 games in the NHL and AHL (and that was erroneously reported to be the basis for his exemption by some bloggers), I believe the real question is whether or not 3 years / seasons had transpired since he signed, for purposes of determining waiver exemption.  The CBA is silent as to this sort of scenario, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable for Bill Daly to hold that the 3 year period tolls when a player reneges on his obligations, and that similar to the 160 game clock, the 3 years only count if played under contract, if not in the NHL / AHL.

I’m not so arrogant or tied up with hockey blogs as to suggest that I might not have missed something, but based on what I’ve read, that’s my interpretation.  I do know that if I had drafted the CBA, I’d have certainly included a more comprehensive set of definitions in order to reduce some of the ambiguitites.  Also, if Radulov was made to go through waivers, that would mean that he’d burned off his ELC, and that would be victimizing the Preds for a second time.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 04/22/12 at 05:43 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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