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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Predators Greatly Increase their Chances of Winning Cup with Return of Radulov

Alexander Radulov was selected by the Predators in the 1st Round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, 15th overall. He is 6'1'' and 205 pounds and plays the right wing. In his rookie year, 2006-2007, he played 64 games and compiled 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points, and was also plus-19. In his sophomore year he played 81 games and had 26 goals and 32 assists for a total of 58 points, and was plus-7.

To the great dismay of the Predators, he then decided to leave the team and return to Russia to play in the KHL. He was extremely successful in the KHL over the last four years, winning scoring titles, most valuable player awards, and a championship. His team fell short of the playoffs this year and he decided to agree to return to the Predators. It appears that he is free of his contract with his KHL team so he might be here for long-term, but his NHL entry level contract will expire this year (making him a restricted free agent) so the Predators would have to offer him a big contract to secure his services for next year and onward. Radulov is now 25 years old and I expect him to be better than his two previous seasons with the Predators. He is also extremely competitive and likes to win so that should be enough to convince the rest of the Predators that he is good for the team.

By the way, in my opinion, if a player leaves to play in a different country before his contract has expired, and without good reason for leaving, he should not be allowed to return to the NHL. Letting players control the league is a mistake.

Radulov’s First Game Back and Playoff Hopes

On Thursday, March 22, just one day after arriving in the United States, Radulov decided to get right into action and made his first appearance for the Predators in a road game against the Penguins. He played pretty well and scored the Predators only goal in a 5-1 loss. The score did not entirely reflect the game since the Pens only had 23 shots on net while the Predators had 30. Malkin had 10 of the Pens shots on net and two goals, while Neal had four assists in the game. The main difference in the game was Pekka Rinne’s poor play, whose Save Percentage was a brutal .783. It was Rinne’s second poor game in a row and that is very uncharacteristic of him and obviously a cause of concern for the Predators. He will have to be on top of his game for the Predators to have any chance of going far in the playoffs. If he returns to form the Predators are going to be extremely tough in post-season action and they could even go all the way because Vancouver is not playing well at all and the Red Wings have struggled with injuries and some let-downs.

You can view Radulov's goal by clicking the following link.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P3vatH8qck

TJ Stanley