The last time Alexander Radulov wore his No. 47 for the Nashville Predators was back in 2008, before he decided to leave the NHL and join Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL. But that all changed Wednesday morning.
General manager David Poile formally announced that Nashville had once again acquired the former 15th overall pick of the 2004 draft, a move that Poile and Predators fans hope is the final piece towards winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Radulov left in the summer of 2008 after he signed a three-year contract in Russia, even though he still had one year remaining on his entry-level contract with the Predators. The team then suspended him indefinitely in September, though team officials remained in contact with him in the hopes of luring him back to Nashville.
During his stint in Russia, Radulov won MVP honors twice, became the league’s all-time leading scorer and even won a championship in 2011.
“I'm happy to come back and be here because I mean I play here two years, and I remember all the moments,” Radulov said. “It's good to be back here you know. Feel good and just looking forward to help the team be better. I know it is a good young team. I know some guys from it. We're good friends of mine.”
Getting back Radulov makes the Predators – a team that picked up Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad before the trade deadline – even more lethal, and Nashville could certainly use it given the competition in the Western Conference.
The Predators are fourth in the conference and trail the St. Louis Blues by eight points for the division lead. With nine games remaining on the schedule, Radulov will fulfill the final season of his Nashville contract and become a restricted agent come July 1. Poile hopes he can convince him to stay with the Predators.
“It's our goal to have him stay here longer. Again, no pressure right now. Just play, and we'll talk and see what makes sense going forward for both of us,” Poile said.
But the KHL has other plans. The president of the league has stated that Radulov will be back in the league next season but Radulov has yet to make any promises. He most likely will not make his decision until once his NHL season has come to an end.
Radulov will be eligible to play Thursday night in Pittsburgh but it’s unclear as to whether or not he will be ready to go, since he hasn’t skated in a couple of weeks. Predators coach Barry Trotz will decide on Thursday after morning skate if Radulov will be in the lineup. If not, expect him ready to go this weekend.
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