The fabled KHL season in Mother Russia has begun. Nashville Predators exile Alexander Radulov has already started collecting his rubles. But by several accounts, Radulov has indicated an interest
in returning to the NHL (perhaps not until next season
). What's more, Nashville may understandably want to trade him
rather than take him back as a prodigal son who screwed the franchise at its most vulnerable moment in time.
It won't happen now, it probably won't happen during this season, but at some point, Radulov's rights are likely to be on the NHL trade market. If I'm Garth Snow, I check in on that sale early and often.
Judging by his first two seasons
-- and the Predators brought him along carefully, perhaps lowering his stats -- he's a proven scoring talent superior to anything the Islanders currently possess (including Kyle Okposo's ceilling). He also might occasionally injure your captain during an overzealous playoff celebration
. Hey, every star carries baggage.
He's entering the third and final year of his entry level deal. So pending the results of IIHF arbitration panel (which could, don't forget, rule Radulov was somehow free in the IIHF world to do what he did), and depending on the NHL's reaction, he could enter next season with either one year left on his deal or with team-controlled rights as an RFA.
Either way, you have a guy who bailed on his team and the NHL for the rubles -- so who knows, he might bail again -- but who's in a position to make enough cash on his next NHL deal to keep him happy and on the sunset side of the Pacific. He's also owned by a team that, presumably, wants to be rid of him before he plays another NHL game.
So, those are the factors that enter into his trade value, into the leverage you bring into trade talks with Nashville. It's too early to anticipate what Nashivlle would want for him, much less what the trade market would bear for him (a similar prospect? No dice; we have none. An offensive defenseman and a couple high picks? Maybe.) But talent-wise and age-wise, the 22-year-old Radulov is precisely the type of player that Isles GM Garth Snow should be looking at to advance his youth rebuild.
In a proper youth movement, you hang on to your assets and you plan for the long-term. But the one long-term boon that's worth giving up some of your future prospects for is a young, certain talent who gives you something you don't have in your system.
Someone like Radulov.