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Predators need to walk a “fine line” if Radulov returns

Mar 15, 2012, 8:45 AM EDT

radulov

There is an assumption that Alexander Radulov’s potential return can only be a good thing for the Nashville Predators and it’s not hard to see why. Radulov is a tremendous talent who had 58 points in his sophomore NHL season back in 2007-08 before dominating in the KHL. If he were to join the Predators now, it’s not much of a stretch to say that he could even be their points leader in the playoffs.

Still, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a potential downside if Radulov decides to join the Predators at this stage of the season to try and win a Stanley Cup.

“It takes away from the guys we have on the team when we talk about other guys coming in, and guys who have been here all year and worked hard all year,” Predators defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s going to be a fine line we’re going to have to walk if he does come back.”

Suter, who is among the seven Nashville players on the roster that played with Radulov during his original NHL stint, thinks it will ultimately be fine. Still, it does underscore one of the ways Radulov joining the team could potentially be problematic.

Suter went onto say, “He’s a great player. It’s too bad that he left us kind of hanging there, but, he is a good player.”

It would be interesting to see how much that sentiment is shared by the others who have played with Radulov before. As good of a person as Radulov might be, he is the same guy that left the team while under contract to play in Russia. It’s not hard to believe that the Predators players will ultimately do their best to put that behind them if Radulov decides to join the team. Even so, team chemistry matters and it remains to be seen how the addition of Radulov would alter it.

  1. mdhedley - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    I’m not sure I understand how the situation with Radulov is different from the situation with any other player acquired late in the season. In this case he’s a top 6 scoring talent which means that someone who’s been serving top 6 is likely to drop to 3rd and 4th line. This happens on the trade deadline for any team that picks up a top 6 forward.

    • gekkoguy82 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      True, it’s similar. But it’s different in that he walked out on his teammates and organization. He’s not simply a trade deadline acquisition who is coming in and trying to fit in a new situation. There are clearly some ruffled feathers that will need to be smoothed if this will work. Suter and Radulov were great friends during his first go round with the team and you can see by Suter’s comments that there were some bruised feelings at some level. Maybe not deal-breaking, heart rending, gallon of ice cream eating feelings, but it certainly didn’t help any relationships with guys who are still with the team since he left.

      • davebabychreturns - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM

        Yep, you can’t just ignore the baggage that Radulov would be bringing into the Preds dressing room – especially since the team leadership (Suter and Weber) are passionate enough about winning that they have really pressured the organization to step up and demonstrate they will do what it takes to build a contender.

        Meanwhile Radulov made that team worse when he walked away, basically because he did not want to have his income limited by the same CBA every other player has to live with..

  2. going4iton4th - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I’m ok with Radulov joining the team now, although I understand what Suter and the other players could be thinking ” you didn’t help us get here so now you decide to join us?” The guy would provide scoring punch though so I think it’s worth a roll of the dice.

  3. solador78 - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    The Preds and their coaching staff should keep their heads up.

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