There's one great prize in hockey that Alexander Radulov has yet to claim - the GooGoo Goal.
Radu-mania is running wild here in Nashville, as every few hours seems to bring more news which points in the direction of Alexander Radulov's return for a playoff run with the Predators. Earlier today, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke at the general managers meeting in Boca Raton, clarifying that the way is indeed wide open to his coming back, thanks to an NHL/NHLPA agreement to waive Article 13.23 of the CBA for this unusual circumstance.
We should know within the next 24-48 what Alex's intentions are, but given the number of things which have come together over the last few days, a comeback seems more likely than we could have ever hoped for previously. Rather than cut bait and trade Radulov's rights away in a fit of indignation, it appears that David Poile's famous patience may indeed pan out.
The possible addition of Radulov to the Nashville Predators' lineup at this late stage of the season is perhaps the most exciting personnel development we've seen around these parts since the Peter Forsberg trade in 2007. A team which was already aggressive at the Trade Deadline with the deals for Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad stands to receive an unlooked-for injection of world-class talent on the wing.
But that doesn't mean that Radulov would be a lock to light up the scoreboard...
Reasons Why Alexander Radulov Will Light It Up
- He has honed his offensive game over the last four seasons to become the premier force in the world's #2 hockey league. He's a two-time KHL MVP, and two-time KHL scoring champ. At age 25, he's very much in his prime years as a hockey player.
- The Predators are already scoring at a pretty decent clip, and the power play has been generally terrific, so it's not like the Preds will just give him the puck by himself and expect him to carry the load. There is perhaps a deeper group of wingers to work alongside than Nashville has ever had before.
- Comrades to hang out with - the presence of both Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn (the "Brostitsyns"?) gives Radulov two Russian-speaking teammates, which may provide a more comfortable environment for him than he enjoyed previously.
Reasons Why Alexander Radulov Will Flop
- This ain't the KHL - defensemen will be faster, more physical, and tougher to beat than in the wide-open Russian game, while the playoffs are less than a month away.
- Time and space are much scarcer in the North American game than on the big European rinks, which are 13 feet wider. This affects the passing lanes which a player can jump into, the timing of breakouts, and the "soft" areas of an opponent's defense where a sniper can get open. This adjustment could lead to some ugly-looking play early on.
- How well will the style of hockey Radulov has played for the last four seasons mesh with Barry Trotz's? We've seen Colin Wilson scratched recently for not living up to Trotz's demanding standards, so this stands as an open issue.
If he can even pull a few of these magic tricks out of his bag, however, Predators fans will be in for quite a treat next month.