Former Montreal Canadiens Winger Alex Radulov Heading Back to KHL

Mar 30, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Alexander Radulov. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Alexander Radulov. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens made the surprise move of the offseason back in 2016 when they signed Alex Radulov to a contract. The enigmatic winger had been playing in Russia after skipping town on the Nashville Predators in the middle of his contract.

Radulov had been one of the best players in the KHL for eight seasons, but refused to return to play in the NHL until 2016. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin rolled the dice and offered him a one-year contract with a cap hit of $5.75 million.

It seemed like a high cap hit at the time, considering he hadn’t played in the NHL in nearly a decade, but he did have a successful track record in North America and it was just a one year deal.

The somewhat risky contract paid off handsomely for Bergevin when Radulov clicked on the team’s top line with Max Pacioretty and scored 18 goals and 54 points in 76 games. He helped the Habs return to the playoffs in 2017 after a brutal 2015-16 season and scored seven points in six games in a first round playoff loss.

Then came the 2017 offseason which has gone down as some of Marc Bergevin’s worst work. He famously was quoted as saying “if you want loyalty, get a dog” when asked how contract negotiations were going with longtime top pairing defender Andrei Markov. He also essentially said they had enough cap space for Markov or Radulov and the first to act would get a deal.

Neither of them acted. Well, Radulov’s agent did when he agreed to a five year deal with the Dallas Stars at a $6.25 million cap hit. Markov did as well when he decided to go back to Russia and play. Radulov’s contract just ended and it sounds like his NHL career did as well and he is heading back to the KHL.

After Radulov and Markov left Montreal, Bergevin filled the gaps with Karl Alzner, two sticks of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, an ancient Mark Streit, several pieces of electrical tape, Joe Morrow and a couple of used matchsticks. He also traded Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin.

It didn’t go well and the Canadiens were awful again in 2017-18, while being well under the salary cap. Radulov meanwhile went on to play terrific hockey for the Stars for four years. He scored 72 points in 82 games in his first season in Texas and had 72 points in just 70 games the following season.

Injuries began to slow him down after that as he scored 46 points in 71 games combined over the 2019-21 seasons. He did put up 18 points in 27 playoff games in 2020 as the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Final.

This past season saw the 35 year old score just four goals and 22 points in 71 games. Still, you wonder what could have been had he re-signed with the team in 2017.

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