The torturous relationship between the Nashville Predators and restricted free agent Alex Radulov is almost over.
In recent days, Predators general manager David Poile said in a phone interview with FoxSportsTennessee.com, he has given Radulovs agent Jay Grossman permission to try and negotiate deals with other NHL teams. If he can, Nashville then would have to work out a trade for Radulov.
Poile said that after a lot of thought and discussions both internally and with Radulovs camp that right now it just feels the fits not there with Nashville.
Hes trying to decide whether to sign over in the KHL or to come back to the NHL, Poile said. That has given him the opportunity to talk to other teams, if you will, to see if theres a fit with them. If there is, great. We can get something for our asset. And if he goes to the KHL, well keep his rights and see what happens down the road.
This means the end of an operatic saga between the organization and the enigmatic wing. Radulov returned to the team in March after a four-year hiatus during which he played in his native Russias KHL, became the Preds leading scorer in the first round of the playoffs but then got himself suspended in the second round a move that proved perhaps fatal to the Preds playoff aspirations.
Reports had surfaced in recent days that Predators were looking to trade Radulov, who will be a restricted free agent as of July 1, and that the New York Rangers might be a potential landing spot for the three-time KHL MVP who scored 26 goals for Nashville in his last full season with the team.
After that 2007-08 season, Radulov broke the terms of his contract to sign a more lucrative deal in Russia. Nashvilles front office courted him for years in the hope that he would return but now has elected to part ways with him.
During this past regular season, Radulov, 25, had three goals and four assists in nine games showing his potential game-breaking ability and one goal and five assists in eight playoff games. He only recorded one point in the second round and was minus-3. Prior to Game 2 in Phoenix, he broke curfew and played so poorly that he was heavily criticized on national television for his play in that game and then the Preds suspended him and Andrei Kostitsyn, who also broke curfew that night, for Game 3 once they learned of the violation. Both players were healthy scratches for Game 4. Nashville, which had high hopes in the postseason, lost the series in five games.
In the aftermath, the team had plenty of conversations with Radulov about the situation. Poile was asked if the decision were based on a front office decision or irreconcilable differences between coach Barry Trotz and the player.
Its everything, just going through every situation, Poile said. If somebody wants to get him in the NHL, he could be a fabulous add to their team.
A decision on Radulov is just one of many that Nashville must make this offseason. All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter will be an unrestricted free agent as of July 1 and fellow All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, a finalist for the Norris Trophy (top defenseman) for the past two seasons, will be a restricted free agent. Other players such as defenseman Hal Gill and veteran energy player Jordin Tootoo will be unrestricted.
Poile said he has engaged in lots of discussions with all of his various players. He said he is not pessimistic about the Suter situation but that he would have liked to have had him signed by now. As for Weber, he said the team is in something of a holding pattern until the Preds know the amount of dollars they might have to commit to Suter, who would be the top free-agent defenseman on the market if he chooses to test it.