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How much of an ice hog was Alexander Radulov?

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Spals: "you've been gone so long I almost didn't recognize you."
Spals: "you've been gone so long I almost didn't recognize you."

In the latest edition of the Hippodrome, which has carved out a niche as the definitive all-encompassing survey of the Nashville sporting world, J.R. Lind notes one of the chief on-ice complaints about Alexander Radulov's behavior; that he took overly-long shifts, a big no-no under Barry Trotz:

On 102.5's Sports Revolution, Poile delineated the reasons why it wasn't going to work. One is that Rads was used to the slower pace of the KHL and he tended to take longer-than-necessary shifts when he came back to the NHL. That's sort of a strange explanation for letting go potentially the best goal-scorer in team history and also makes one wonder about the fate of shift-hog UFA Jordin Tootoo.

While some of the criticism being lobbed Rad's way may be typical "kick him on his way out of town" behavior, having a guy stay out on the ice too long can indeed be a serious problem. It screws up the line combinations, and can quickly breed disruption among teammates. If one player stays out for an extra 10-20 seconds, that deeply cuts into the next player's ice time. The best-case scenario is that the shorted player simply resents the floater - worse yet is the possibility that the 2nd guy will extend his shift too, leading to a cascade effect that can wreak havoc on a team.

But just how long was Radulov cruising around out there? Let's take a look at the facts...

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The following table shows the total ice time (in minutes) for each player on the 2011-2012 Nashville Predators (regular season data only), along with the number of shifts taken, and the average duration in seconds:

Player Position Total Ice Time Shifts Avg. Shift
Ryan Suter D 2093.6 2286 55.0
Alexander Radulov W 174.1 191 54.7
Shea Weber D 2040.3 2297 53.3
Colin Wilson W 1096.6 1391 47.3
Ryan Ellis D 474.3 604 47.1
Kevin Klein D 1315.8 1690 46.7
Roman Josi D 956.1 1240 46.3
Francis Bouillon D 1157.8 1505 46.2
Cal O`Reilly C 70.4 92 46.0
Patric Hornqvist W 1164.9 1531 45.7
Craig Smith W 1021.2 1343 45.6
Brandon Yip W 274.4 361 45.6
Jordin Tootoo W 1012.5 1333 45.6
Mike Fisher C 1389.1 1829 45.6
Hal Gill D 415.0 550 45.3
Jonathon Blum D 591.8 785 45.2
David Legwand C 1444.3 1928 44.9
Jack Hillen D 773.2 1039 44.7
Andrei Kostitsyn W 283.6 382 44.5
Martin Erat W 1311.9 1778 44.3
Gabriel Bourque W 549.7 762 43.3
Brian Mcgrattan W 159.5 223 42.9
Ryan Thang W 8.53 12 42.7
Nick Spaling C 1209.42 1706 42.5
Sergei Kostitsyn W 1234.86 1772 41.8
Chris Mueller C 36.58 53 41.4
Matt Halischuk W 821.61 1195 41.3
Mattias Ekholm D 24.83 37 40.3
Kyle Wilson W 40.7 61 40.0
Blake Geoffrion C 227.5 345 39.6
Jerred Smithson C 632.21 980 38.7
Niclas Bergfors W 88.78 139 38.3
Teemu Laakso D 104.27 164 38.1
Paul Gaustad C 189.07 308 36.8
Zack Stortini W 4.88 11 26.6

Sure enough, Radulov sticks out like a sore thumb. Defensemen are normally expected to stay out longer than forwards, but to have Rads right up there with Ryan Suter in ice time per shift is indeed striking. In fact, across all forwards in the NHL this season, Radulov ranked 9th in this category.

Maybe it's his upbringing - despite there only being 15 Russian forwards in the league, 4 of the top 9 "ice hogs" (as J.R. termed them) hail from Mother Russia. While Radulov may indeed have the talent level to consider himself in Kovalchuk or Malkin's class, as a guy coming back to join a team right before the playoffs, he can't just soak up the ice time like that.

So indeed, this criticism sticks like glue, even though it's something that could have perhaps been addressed over time.

But the throwaway snipe at Tootoo at the end of J.R.'s quote? Well, I don't think I buy that one.