Regardless of what anyone believes about Alexander Radulov away from the rink, there’s no way to deny he’s an immensely talented offensive player that has the potential to change a game. Even with that said, his free agency ask is certain to make teams scoff.
During TSN’s Insider Trading segment, Darren Dreger reported that teams have been kicking the tires on Radulov, who is set to make his NHL return after four seasons in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. The Red Wings being one of the clubs who has been in pursuit of Radulov, but Detroit GM Ken Holland and Radulov may be worlds apart when it comes to the salary he’ll earn in 2015-16.
“The belief is the Red Wings are comfortable with a one-year deal around $4 million,” Dreger said. “But a couple of NHL sources have indicated he wants two years at $7.5 million per (season).”
No, that’s not a typo, and don’t adjust your monitor. Radulov has reportedly asked for a two-year, $15-million deal. Per CapFriendly, that would put Radulov in a tie for the 19th largest cap hit in the NHL next season, matching the annual salary of Jason Spezza, Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and the (likely departing) Pavel Datsyuk.
Before we go any further, let’s clarify something: there’s almost no chance Radulov scores $7.5 million per season on the open market, unless there’s an almost absurd bidding war for his services. While the 29-year-old may be likely to come in next season and score upwards of 50 points, he’s been absent from the league for four years and is entering the back half of his prime. He’s proven he can score at the NHL level — he had four goals and 13 points in 18 games during his 17-game stint with Nashville in 2011-12 — but forking over $7.5 million per season for him is a risky proposition.
It’s much more likely Radulov inks a deal worth an annual salary closer to Detroit’s offer and that he’s on a one-year deal, though the difference-maker could be whichever team is willing to hand him the extra year and ensure him a job for the 2017-18 campaign. And whichever team does get him will likely get a top-six impact player.
Over the past four seasons alone, Radulov has torn the KHL apart. In his first season with CSKA, Radulov scored 22 goals and 68 points in 48 games, and proceeded to put up seasons of 34 points in 34 games, 71 points in 46 games and a “down year” of 65 points in 53 games. His stay with CSKA saw him post 78 goals and 238 points in 181 games.
Long before he was an intriguing free agent coming out of the KHL, Radulov was a 15th overall pick by the Predators in 2004. Radulov scored 47 goals and 102 points in 154 games with the Predators, but left the team following his second season to head to the KHL. His 13-game stay in 2011-12 was his playing out the final year of his entry-level deal.