Russian winger Alexander Radulov is rumored to be ready to return to the NHL in the coming seasons and the Colorado Avalanche, led by head coach Patrick Roy, are rumored to be frontrunners for the talented – but troubled – wingers services. According to a report by the Russian website championat.net, coach Roy has personally called Radulov to discuss coming back to North America and wearing an Avalanche sweater.
Radulov and coach Roy’s connection goes back to the 2005-06 season when Radulov played his final major junior season with coach Roy as his bench boss for the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL). The pair helped lead the Remparts to a Memorial Cup championship in their only season together and Radulov was virtually unstoppable. The 6-foot-1 forward scored 61 goals and 152 points in 62 regular season games before adding 55 points in 23 playoff games. Radulov was the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) top scorer, most valuable player, and the Memorial Cup MVP under the tutelage of coach Roy.
Radulov was quickly elevated to the NHL the next season where he scored 95 points in his first 145 games with the Nashville Predators. After his second season, he shocked the hockey world and walked out on his three-year contract with the Predators to sign deal with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
After four seasons, Radulov made his first return to the NHL at the end of the 2011-12 season. He scored three goals and seven points in nine regular season games before leading the team with six points in eight playoff games.
His uncanny ability to generate offense was once again undeniable, but Radulov got himself into trouble off the ice. He was suspended in the playoffs after he was allegedly spotted with a teammate at a bar well passed the team’s curfew the night before a game.
While NHL clubs shied away from the troubled winger in the 2012 offseason, CSKA Moscow of the KHL signed him to a four-year deal that was reported to be for worth more than $9 million per season. Radulov still has one year left on that deal, complicating the effort to obtain his services for coach Roy and the Avalanche this offseason. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
Radulov led his team to the KHL championship and earned the league’s MVP honors last season. He tallied a league-leading 71 points in 46 games but also registered 143 penalty minutes.
Radulov oozes with offensive talent but the Avalanche will have do a risk assessment to decide if he is worth the potential trouble. If he truly has grown past his past transgressions, it would be exciting to add a player of his talent level the Avs’ roster without giving up any assets in return. His on and off the ice issues may lead to him returning the NHL at a discount.
Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.
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