Dear NHL Executives,
There may be a scoring winger available via trade this summer. He's 6'1", is about to turn 26, and projects to be about a 25-goal, 60-point player for the foreseeable future. Is there anybody interested? All of you? Fantastic!
Here's the thing - he's Russian. Hmm, I see Scott Howson and team are walking away. He also left the NHL after a couple of seasons to play in the KHL for more money ... okay okay, I see a lot of you are heading for the doors. The last little footnote is that he went on a bit of a bender with a teammate, also Russian, during this year's playoffs. Wait? Where are you all going?
"Enigmatic!" One executive said to another as they shuffled away. "Mercurial", said another despite being completely oblivious as to the word's true meaning.
Inscrutable. Perplexing. Cryptical. These are all words a Globe and Mail writer might use to describe a Russian hockey player in a weekend wrap column. The hockey illuminati are almost uniformally steadfast in their skepticism of players from the old CCCP. I have a theory that anybody who alive during the Summit Series just can't let their prejudice die - they'll go to their graves re-hashing stories of players climbing over the glass to save Harry Sinden from the KGB.
Regardless, Alexander Radulov is one hell of a hockey player. Use whatever colourful adjective you choose to describe him, he might also represent one hell of a bargain for an NHL team this summer.
Drafted 15th overall in 2004, Radulov immediately crossed the Atlantic to play Junior hockey in Canada. During his 19-year old season he torched the QMJHL recording 61 goals and 152 points in 62 games, was named QMJHL MVP, Canadian Major Junior player of the year, and Memorial Cup MVP. And then he ate the puck. By age 20 he was firmly entrenched as an NHL player, and in his 21-year old season he managed 26 goals and 58 points on a low-scoring Predators team. What happened after that? Well, you know.
The thing is, David Poile is no dummy. He's routinely nominated for NHL executive of the year, and with Smashville maturing into 100+ point team on a tight budget he is deserving of these accolades. But the Nashville Predators franchise faces some serious questions as to how they will populate their on-ice roster next season, what with Suter being a UFA, and Shea Weber just a year away from same. If David Poile manages to get Suter under contract or sign Weber long-term, will they have the money to commit to Radulov? Or will they even want to?
If Nashville entertains trading Radulov, it would have to be for a fraction of his true on-ice value, however there might be some comfort in having a bird in their hands, rather than one who skips curfew and may depart at any time to play in the K.
Lucky for fans of the Edmonton Oilers, our management team is poised and analytical, imbued with decades and decades of traditional hockey wisdom. Their re-build is a sensitive apple cart, and they likely wouldn't tip it if it will only end up in tears, late-night hotel returns, a bad influence on the kids, and a despondent Tambellini - violent with muderous rage and clinging to his frozen dogsled after another failed attempt to lure a sniper he had traded for to Oil City after a wild chase across the Russian steppe.
And so, on the Friday afternoon in Pittsburgh prior to the draft, NHL executives shuffled out of the meeting room and toward the hotel buffet, clearing their head of the news they had just received and swapping anecdotes from the draft combine. The talk quickly turned to Ryan Murray's "NHL readiness", and Griffin Reinhart's "Chara-like" size. As they scuttled toward the buffet area, a few men who had stayed behind approached the sullen-looking man from the Predators franchise.
"Is Mr. Poile available for a private lunch?" they asked. "Because Mr. Chiarelli would like to meet with him."
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this FanPost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the staff.