ANAHEIM, Calif. – It appears that Alexander Radulov is one step closer to joining the Nashville Predators.
In a somewhat expected news break Sunday night, Radulov and his Russian team, Ufa Salavat Yulayev, "appear" to have reached a deal allowing Radulov to leave for Nashville, Slava Malamud of Russia's Sport Express reported via Twitter.
According to the report, Radulov and his Russian club have reached a compromise that allows the player to leave for the NHL. Radulov will pay back two-thirds of his remaining salary on a contracT that runs through April 30. Under terms of that deal, Ufa Salavat Yulayev woUld still hold the rights to the final year of his KHL contract and the out clause to the NHL would Remain in effect.
By playing in the NHL this year, Radulov would burn the final year of his entry-level deal and would become a restricted free agent July 1.
According to Malamud's report, Radulov could leave for Nashville on Tuesday. The Predators play Edmonton at home on Tuesday, in Pittsburgh on Thursday and at home against Winnipeg on Saturday.
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"We have been in contact with Jay Grossman, Alexander's agent, throughout this process of trying to return Alexander to the Predators and the NHL," Poile said. "Though the complicated process has yet to be concluded, every indication is that Alexander will be returning to Nashville in the near future.
"We do not anticipate having any further update on this process until (Tuesday), at the earliest."
However, after a 3-1 win against Anaheim, Nashville coach Barry Trotz talked openly about Radulov's pending return.
"I was informed when I came off the ice about that," Trotz said. "If that's the case, I think that's probably pretty clear. It just sounded like there was a release problem. I know that David had talked to his agent and his agent said he was planning to make his way to Nashville. It was the release that was holding him up. That's why he stayed the extra couple of days. He was planning to get on a plane on Friday."
Trotz said he hadn't talked to Poile yet, but that Radulov could "probably" get to the U.S. by Tuesday.
"Hopefully it will happen," Preds center Mike Fisher said.
Fisher and the Predators aren't concerned about Radulov possibly effecting team chemistry this late in the season. Nashville added Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn before the trade deadline.
Widely regarded as the best player not playing in the NHL, Radulov scored 44 goals in two seasons with Nashville before he bolted to the KHL in 2008.
"Radulov has been here before and he knows some of the guys," Fisher said. "I don't see him not fitting in fine. He's going to add a lot. If he does end up coming, if you can add a player like that late, in this situation, going into the playoffs, it's going to be big for us."
Radulov has 25 goals and 63 points in 50 games this season for Salavat, which just ended its season. Trotz has no qualms about inserting him right into the lineup, presumably at his right wing spot.
"It would be huge," Trotz said. "It would probably put a lot of pressure on guys. He's a world class player. He's a world class talent. The one thing that Rad does is, Rad is passionate about winning and passionate about scoring goals and being a top player. I think it's great timing this week. Hopefully he gets here quick enough. I don't expect him to play against the Edmonton Oilers (on Tuesday), but I'd love to see him in Pittsburgh (on Thursday)."