Multiple reports have confirmed that Alexander Radulov has signed a contract extension with Salavat Yulaev of the KHL, but we're getting more details as to the length of the deal, and some of the thinking that both sides had going into it. Perhaps most interestingly, it sounds like the contract was signed months ago, but kept quiet until now.
Follow after the jump as we wade through the developments from across the water (fire up Google Translate for assistance)...
Deal signed in August
According to this article from SovSport.ru, Radulov's contract was signed back in August, during his team's training camp, covering the current season "plus the next two", taking him to the summer of 2013. This, from an exchange with Salavat Yulaev GM Oleg Gross:
- It is true that Radulov signed a new contract with your club?
- What? Who wrote this?
- Yes is the whole of Russia and now North America.
- So we have long signed a new contract with Alexander. And published this information.
- Is it?
- Radulov has signed a summer contract for three years! This season, plus the next two.
- The contract is not the item that Radulov might leave in the NHL?
- According to CHL regulations we can not take into account such nuances in the contract.
I wouldn't be surprised if this deal was intentionally kept quiet to keep it off the public relations radar during the Carolina Hurricanes' visit to play at St. Petersburg, an event which was used by the KHL to trumpet their status on the world hockey stage, and their "agreement" with the NHL to respect each other's contracts.
NHL's CBA expiration in 2012 played a role
Then, in a separate SovSport.ru interview, Radulov's Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev explained that uncertainty in the NHL played a part in Alex's decision making:
We should remember that in 2012 there ends the collective agreement. Now the NHL players union new people with their vision of the situation. No one does not understand what we should expect consequences. It may well be a lockout.
That is why we went with Alexander the path of least resistance. And to insure their future. If you happen to lock out - all our NHL players will come to Russia. The greater competition for contracts and place in the composition. A question about the NHL, we have postponed until 2013.
So, the thinking here is that Radulov could lock in his premiere status in the KHL for the 2012-13 season, and avoid competition from NHL players coming overseas due to a lockout? That's seems a pretty unlikely scenario to use here. Perhaps if he was locking up for more years and more money it might make sense, but not knowing the financial terms of the contract, it's hard to say.
Same old, same old
The bottom line is that the Nashville Predators remain in the situation they've been for the last 2 years here. By all rights Radulov should honor his NHL contract, but the team is pretty much powerless to compel him to, and the NHL hasn't fought for their interests here. They could have, for example, refused to have NHL teams play exhibition matches against KHL clubs over this matter, but they chose not to.
So is this the last time I'll have to write about Alexander Radulov relative to the Nashville Predators? It could well be. As he heads into the prime of his career, I can't imagine him coming back to play out his entry-level NHL contract, for less than $1 million. This extension takes him up to the summer right before the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, and it is inconceivable that he would leave Russia to return to the NHL at that time.
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