Tuesday, March 13, 2012
While it is by no means certain at this point that Alexander Radulov will be making his return to the Nashville Predators, it does seem to be getting more and more likely as the days go on.
Given the drastic growth of hockey in the Nashville area over the past few years, it's likely that many current Predators fans never saw Radulov play live at Bridgestone Arena before he bolted to the Kontinental Hockey League. Given that he hasn't been anywhere near Nashville since the end of the 2007-2008 season, new Preds fans might want to know what all of the fuss is about with this Radulov guy. Here is a Hockey Night in Nashville scouting report on Radulov:
Radulov has pretty good size. During the last year he was with the Predators in 2008, he was listed a 6'1", 188 pounds. One can only guess that he's added some strength weight during his time in the KHL.
As far as pure talent is concerned, Radulov is arguably the most gifted player to ever wear a Nashville uniform. His offensive skills are world-class, especially his ability to create something out of nothing. Radulov has a bomb for a wrist shot, and is really good a picking the corners.
Radulov also has pretty good speed, which allows him to be even more dangerous in odd-man rush situations. Offensively, Radulov is the complete package. He can skate well, deke, dangle, shoot and he's a pretty good passer in his own right. One of the biggest weapons that Radulov has is his ability to show great patience with the puck. He waits until he has the perfect opportunity to score and unloads.
One of the biggest questions about Radulov's game is his defense. During his two years in Nashville, Radulov was defensively irresponsible. Most reports out of Russia suggest that his defensive game has improved, and that he's a much more complete player now than he was four years ago. Still, he hasn't proven to be a good defensive forward at the NHL level.
PASSION FOR THE GAME
If Radulov scores a goal, there's not a person in the building that won't know it was him. He's known for his drawn-out goal celebrations, which are simply hilarious. He got a lot of flack for that while in the NHL, but it does show that he is really passionate about the game.
Since he left Nashville, the Predators have been in search for that superstar forward who can be a true difference maker. Radulov is that guy. He's a guy that can score a big goal when his team needs it. He's not afraid of the big moments. Even during the younger days of his NHL career, Radulov racked up five playoff goals in just 10 games played.
The bottom line is that if Radulov decides to return to the Predators for the remainder of this season, Nashville instantly becomes a very serious Stanley Cup contender. His offensive skills are something that Nashville has needed for the past few years. If and when Radulov returns, the sky is the limit for this Nashville hockey team.
Here is a link to a YouTube video that really highlights the points made above.