Radulov spent the better part of eight seasons in the KHL, with two controversial stints in Nashville, before signing a one-year, $5.75MM contract with the Canadiens. The term suggested this was very much a “show-me” contract, and show them he has. Radulov has been one of the Canadiens best players, with 42 points in 59 games thus far. Now, the Canadiens will have to lock up their Russian star long-term.
They won’t be the only team with interest in the big winger. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reported that Radulov is a “strong position” to negotiate with the Canadiens (link in French). Radulov and T.J. Oshie are the only big names under the age of 35 set to hit unrestricted free agency. The KHL is also an outside option for Radulov, but staying in the NHL with Montreal appears to be his first choice.
[Related: PHR’s Midseason UFA Power Rankings]
This advantage give Radulov “every reason” to wait until July 1st, according Lavoie. Even though he’s expressed interest in staying in Montreal, this summer is likely his last chance to hit a home run in free agency. His former coach and friend Barry Trotz suggested he would be “shocked” if Radulov didn’t end up signing long-term in Montreal. Last Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that Radulov wants to sign long-term, perhaps even looking for a six-year pact. That would take him to age 37, which might make the Canadiens uncomfortable. Power forwards tend to drop off a cliff sometime in their mid-thirties, so GM Marc Bergevin would be taking a risk to sign Radulov for that kind of term.
Kypreos suggested the Canadiens could offer Radulov a five or six year contract worth somewhere around $4.5 or $5MM per season, but would need to go to the $7MM neighbourhood to keep the term to three years. The Canadiens have some money coming off their cap this summer, but have Radulov, franchise goaltender Carey Price, and captain Max Pacioretty due for new contracts in each of the next three summers. With those big money signings on the horizon, it’s no wonder that Bergevin is considered “all-in” on this playoff run.
- Despite needing to address his goaltending situation before this June’s expansion draft, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would prefer to keep both Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury for the remainder of this campaign, according to Adam Gretz of NBC Sports. Murray has been significantly better this season, and with Fleury’s no-move clause (NMC), the Penguins need to make a move to avoid losing their young starter. If Rutherford doesn’t trade Fleury before next Wednesday, then the wily GM will have to convince him to waive his NMC in the spring for either the Golden Knights or a trading partner. Two teams to watch are the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Bob McKenzie of TSN reported on Thursday that the Flames are looking to improve their current goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson; while there hasn’t been any reports of interest on the part of Winnipeg, they’re currently two points out of a wildcard spot while only one of their three goaltenders have a SV% above 0.900 (Connor Hellebuyck). Should the Jets get stable netminding, then they could be a darkhorse candidate in the Western Conference.
- Speaking of goaltenders, an interesting tidbit came out of Edmonton today regarding their 2015 acquisition of Cam Talbot. The Oilers acquired Talbot at the 2015 NHL Draft, trading three picks (2nd, 3rd, and 7th) for the then-unproven goalie and a seventh round pick. While discussing the Oilers’ interest in trading for Kevin Shattenkirk, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that Talbot “told the Oilers point-blank ’don’t trade for me because I’m not going to re-sign here.'” Just six months later, Talbot signed a three-year extension to stay with the rising Oilers. Talbot has been the Oilers’ MVP (non-Connor McDavid category) with 30 wins and a 0.921 SV% in 54 games so far this season. Seravalli’s anecdote is notable as Talbot and Shattenkirk share an agent, and it shows GM Peter Chiarelli has previously been able to pitch Edmonton to players who were originally not interested in staying long-term.