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Of all the playoff contending teams, the Nashville Predators were the team that made the most significant moves at this year’s trade deadline. But their biggest acquisition could be yet to come.
The hockey world learned today that the Predators have heated up talks with Alexander Radulov, hoping to at some point have the dynamic Russian forward back in the organization for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
A first-round, fifteenth-overall selection in 2004, Radulov spent two seasons with the club from 2006-2008 and quickly established himself as a future star in the league. That star, however, would not shine in the NHL as Radulov decided to head back to his native country to play for Ufa Salavat in the Kontinental Hockey League where he has spent the last four years of his career.
In Russia, the 25-year-old has become every bit the superstar he was expected to be in the NHL, but there has always been the hope that he would eventually return to Nashville.
While talks between the two sides have broken off in the previous attempts to get him back in a Predators’ jersey, this year’s circumstances make it a more realistic oppurtunity. If Radulov does in fact come back this season, it would satisfy the final year of his Nashville contract which is worth $980,000. He would then become a restricted free agent and would certainly be in for a much larger contract prior to next season.
The club will not be overly optimistic though as there have been many unsuccessful attempts to bring Radulov back to Nashville, something head coach Barry Trotz echoed when asked about the situation.
“Until I see the whites of young Radulov’s eyes, I won’t prepare for it because that’s the what-if — if I won the lottery type thing,” Trotz told Josh Cooper of The Tennessean.
General Manager David Poile also weighed in on the progress in communication yesterday saying that the onus is on Radulov to decide what he wants to do.
“We laid all the groundwork for him to come back, whenever that is going to be. But the groundwork has been laid over the last couple of years, and it has been available to take that opportunity. The timing would be good for him and for us. You’re going to have to talk to him to see whether this is going to happen or not.”
As mentioned, Radulov is a dynamic offensive player with tremendous one-on-one and game-breaking abilities. A powerfully built winger with good speed, puck-possession and a lethal shot, it goes without saying that his addition would make an already elite team that much more dangerous heading into the playoffs.
Central Division Notes
Chicago Blackhawks – The Blackhawks announced today that they have extended the contract of injured forward Daniel Carcillo for another two years. Out since January 2 after tearing a ligament in his left knee, the 27-year-old’s new deal will see him earn an average salary of $825,000 over the next two seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets – After suffering a laceration to his hand last Thursday, goaltender Steve Mason remains listed as day-to-day. On a personal four-game win streak, the club will be hoping he can return to action when they kick off a Western Canada road trip in Edmonton on Wednesday.
Detroit Red Wings – Like the Blue Jackets, the Red Wings anticipate the return of their starting goalie. Jimmy Howard has missed the last three games with a groin injury but made the trip for the team’s upcoming road swing through California. Yesterday, GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press that Howard is ready to go and could very well be between the pipes against the Los Angeles Kings tonight.
St. Louis Blues – On Monday, the Blues announced the signing of 2010 first-round draft pick Jaden Schwartz to an entry-level contract. The 19-year-old forward recently finished his sophomore season at Colorado College and is expected to make his NHL debut tonight in Chicago. "Jaden had an excellent college career and we are excited that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL," GM Doug Armstrong told Blues.com . "He will add depth to the skill level on our team and give us some options as we begin this stretch drive."