Alexander Radulov is making his way straight to his goal: the NHL

By Simon Richard

On October 12th, Hockey’s Future traveled to Drummondville, PQ where a great match-up was expected between the Quebec Remparts and the hometown Voltigeurs. There was an unusual interest for the game as 2501 packed the stands of the Marcel-Dionne Coliseum, about 1000 more than the average attendance for a weekday game.

This sudden interest was mainly caused by the visit of the 16-year-old phenom Angelo Esposito and also by the presence of local star Guillaume Latendresse who was playing his second game there since being returned from the Montreal Canadiens camp where he had exceptional success.

A great hockey game was played that night in Drummondville. The home team came back with two goals in the third, tying the score 4-4 and forcing overtime. Quebec finally won in the shootout.

Esposito and Latendresse offered a great show. The younger had a goal and nine shots on the net while the Canadiens prospect scored two goals on 12 shots on the solid Quebec goaltender Cédrik Desjardins.

That said, the best player on the ice that night was neither Esposito or Latendresse, but rather 2004 Nashville Predators first selection Alexander Radulov.

With a lot of energy on every shift, Radulov offered once again a demonstration of his superb talent. In the second period, playing shorthanded, he broke up a play at the Remparts blue line, and jumped on the puck. He then got rid of one Voltigeurs defenseman with a great move before using the second one as a screen shooting between his legs and scoring. Simply said, it was a beauty. This goal aroused some whisperings on the press gallery. This play was then shown again and again by the television network RDS in the breaking news.

In the shootouts, the Remparts right winger gave the victory to his team being the only player to score. Cruising to the net, he made a tricky move before sending the puck behind Pier-Olivier Pelletier with a backhand shot.

“At times, Alexander may dominate the game,” stated Quebec Remparts head coach Patrick Roy after the game. “I do especially appreciate the fact that he is making great efforts to improve his collective game. His shifts on the ice are shorter now, hence he has more energy at the end of the games.”

En route to the NHL

The Oural born player is spending his second season in North America. He adapted pretty well to the North America game. When he arrived here, he spoke neither French nor English. He now gives interviews in English without the assistance of a translator and can also have conversations in the local language.

“I’m very happy about the decision I have taken last year of playing in the CHL,” he commented to Hockey’s Future in Drummondville. “There is more body contact here on the ice, I do prefer this style of play than the one played in Russia.

“I’m also coached by the best ever NHL goaltender, it is like a dream for me.”

Last year, the 6’1 and 188-pound forward recorded 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists) in 65 games, ranking third among the QMJHL rookies. He was part of the Canada/Russia Challenge in November 2004 and played for Russia at the 2005 WJC in North Dakota, who won silver.

This was enough to earn him an invitation to the 2005 Nashville Predators pro camp. There, the 1986 born player was involved in one preseason game. He had an assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Radulov was sent on the ice for the shootouts and didn’t miss his chance.

“It was really great, I was very excited,” he commented with a lot of enthusiasm. “The guys are really fast and strong out there. The game is also played differently than in the CHL. The style is more defensively oriented in the NHL.”

Patrick Roy predicted a couple weeks ago that Radulov will play in the NHL next year.

“I feel that I did play well at the Nashville camp,” commented Radulov. “The coaches told me that they were happy. They said that if I keep working the way I did this year, I’ll be with them next year.”

So far this year, playing with Esposito, Radulov has accumulated 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in only 8 games. If he keeps this pace, he will become the best Russian born player ever in the QMJHL.

Esposito is very pleased to play on Radulov’s line. “He works very hard and deserves all the success he got,” commented Esposito to HF. “The game is moving constantly when he is on the ice, he has a great vision of the game and tries to reach me. I do like very playing with him much,” added the QMJHL leading scorer.

Radulov did receive three or four generous offers from Russian Super league teams during the 2005 offseason. He would have made a lot of money over there instead of pennies given in the CHL.

“I didn’t consider at all the option playing in the Super league this season,” stated Radulov. “I wanted to come back and play here. My future is in North America, my dream is to play in the NHL. If I had returned in Russia it would have been a step back from attaining my goal.”

Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.