Rumours that Nikita Zaitsev will bring Moscow CSKA teammate Alexander Radulov over to the Leafs in his luggage this summer have cropped up. Rumours about Radulov crop up all the time like dandelions in the lawn. They're almost as pernicious a weed in hockey journalism as rumours about Steven Stamkos joining the Leafs.
The tap root for this rumour isn't very deep, it goes straight to allhockey.ru, and the blurb cites as a source for this missive themselves. Oh, and as of this morning about an hour after the bit was published, it has 55 comments, almost double any other news story on the site.
Via the Toronto Star: Alexander Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn suspended by Nashville Predators
Via Puck Daddy: Alex Radulov signs 4-year KHL contract; will NHL ever see him again?
We get it, all we have to do is put William Nylander in the title and the attention floods in too.
This feels a little déjà vu all over again too. Last year, Colorado fans were subjected to endless, nearly Stamkos level speculation, that Radulov was signing with old coach Patrick Roy. That one at least had the air of plausibility about it. Roy likes his boys from the old days in the Q, and Ryan O'Reilly was busy extracting himself from the team. The Avs and their fans were looking for a way to say, "Well we don't need you anyway, so there."
But for a coach like Babcock who likes players that "live right", is Radulov a guy he'd consider? He left the NHL under a cloud, not just for his late night shenanigans during the playoffs while with Nashville, but for his demeanour on the ice too.
And, boy, does he have demeanour. Everything Radulov does on the ice is a three act opera staring him. He's in the penalty box? Of course he is, he's always in the penalty box, that's why CSKA has such a hot PK unit. (Zaitsev is very good at this, by the way.) And while he's in there, you can bet the camera's on him, showing him emoting to the cheap seats.
The fans love it. They love him. And he's perfect for Russian hockey. This is the league where they don't stop you from lighting your stick on fire at the all-star game.
But Radulov ultimately said no to Colorado, if the offer was ever even real that is, and he's hot like a stick on fire in the playoffs right now, about to take to the ice in a couple of hours to try to take SKA out in four straight in the conference finals.
Oh, and there's also rumours this morning that Evgeny Davidov and Vadim Shipaychov of SKA are coming over too. They are the real stars of the team, and it seems as SKA has moved on from Ilya Kovalchuk, so too has the press moved on from Kovalchuk rumours. It's silly season in Europe, where there's so many guys changing teams as their seasons end, you can get lots of attention from anything with the right name in it.
Radulov's current contract runs out this year, that's true. What isn't true is the oft repeated value of it. It might have been worth $9.5 million US dollars when it was signed four years ago, but now those 300 million rubles are worth a bit more than half that. He may legitimately be looking for a gig where he gets paid in stronger currency, but you can get that in the KHL.
I'll believe he's in the NHL when I see it.