So, by now, you have all heard that Alexander Radulov has confirmed that he will be returning to the NHL next season. You have also heard that the Red Wings are one of the teams that are mulling the idea of adding him, right? Right. There are a lot of mixed feelings here, as Radulov has a reputation of being a polarizing personality, with some bad habits of being "too passionate" in the heat of the moment. Yes, I just called the guy who struck his coach passionate. It is what it is. Who cares? People change, right?
Ansar Khan had reported that the Red Wings are highly interested in signing Radulov, but are doing their research to get a sense of Radulov's character.
It seems to be a mixed bag of opinions on Radulov potentially coming to Detroit, in terms of fan reaction. Some wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole, others are licking their chops at the thought of having him in the top-six. At first, I was with the latter. After digesting the thought of it, and considering it under the right circumstances, I say, why the hell not? Just hear me out. Under the right stipulations, of course.
It needs to be the right deal
Radulov doesn't have the benefit of the doubt here. If he wants to return to the NHL, he's not going to be making KHL money. Ken Holland will certainly kick some tires in the Radulov sweepstakes, but he needs to make sure that the deal benefits the team. That means a deal that goes no longer than two years, and stays in the ballpark of $5 million AAV. Radulov is a potent offensive winger that has proven be can be a force when his head is on straight. If the Wings could scoop him up on those terms, I'd be happy with it.
A changed personality?
There's no doubt about it, Radulov has acted like a complete jerk for a very long time. A source in Russia tells me that he's made strides with his antics on and off the ice over the past couple of years. He now has a child, which has been speculated to set him straight, but one of the biggest driving factors has been Dmitry Kvartalnov, the head coach of CSKA, who was brought into the organization two years ago. Since then, CSKA has remained to be a powerhouse in the KHL, and Radulov has been a big part of it as an alternate captain. If Radulov's attitude has changed, I'm on board with bringing him here. The skill is there. No doubt about that.
Does signing Radulov mean Datsyuk stays?
I'm sure it could help. However, it would seem odd if Pavel Datsyuk stayed in Detroit when he said he thinks he's done in the NHL over one player. Especially since Pavel has expressed that he wants to return to Russia so that he can spend more time with his daughter. It's a possibility, but I'm not convinced.
Signing Radulov means forfeiting the Stamkos sweepstakes and I'm worried that it shows a weird hybrid monster of Ken Holland both getting more aggressive but also finding a way to do it in his worldview, which means bringing in a 30-year old is always going to be preferred to developing youth via the crucible of playing against top NHL competition.
I agree with JJ on this, it could pull the Red Wings from Stamkos, but my gut tells me that signing him is a huge long-shot to begin with. There are going to be plenty of teams with interest in Radulov, so if that means a bidding war then I would prefer Ken Holland to take a pass on trying to sign him. If the Red Wings are going to bring him here, it should be a short "show me" deal. If they can sign Radulov to a one, or even two year deal, it could end up being a very low-risk/high-reward situation. The team needs to revitalize many things, and offense is at the top of the list. There are no doubts that a player like Alexander Radulov, under the right circumstances, could help change that.