Can Alexander Radulov provide the goal scoring the Canadiens desperately need from a top-six winger?
The Canadiens took a gamble, but one that should pay off.
The Montreal Canadiens signing of Alexander Radulov raised some eyebrows. When it was first reported as a possibility early on the morning of July 1, people didn’t know what to make of it.
There are two things we know about the Canadiens under Marc Bergevin.
One is that he has been looking for a top-six winger for a long time. First it was Michael Ryder (the second time), then Daniel Briere, Thomas Vanek, P.A. Parenteau, and finally Alexander Semin. Despite varying levels of success, all of those were essentially failures.
The second is that he sees Russia, and specifically the KHL, as an untapped market to find those players that NHL teams may be overlooking. From signing Jiri Sekac, to making an offer to Artemi Panarin, to the reported interest in Vadim Shipachyov and Evgeny Dadonov.
That brings us to Radulov, who checks both boxes, and early signs point to him being the one to work out.
The biggest knock on Radulov comes down to his attitude, his history, and his past decisions. He went from the QMJHL, to the NHL, to the KHL, to the NHL, and finally back to the KHL, where he was the last four seasons.
He and Bergevin have both said that he is older, he is more mature, and that he is coming to Montreal for the right reasons.
And what a start he has had. He had a goal and an assist in his first preseason game, and even in the camp scrimmages he has been the best player in a Canadiens uniform so far.
It is still early, and remember Alex Semin notably had a very good pre-season as well. But Radulov has a long history of scoring goals at whatever level he has played. In his one full NHL season in 2007-08, he had 26 goals in 81 games (In his rookie year of 2006-07 he had 18 goals in 64 games).
In his second KHL stint, he had 238 points in 181 games over four seasons. If we use the NHLe Calculator, that translates to an NHL equivalent of around 86 points for a full NHL season.
Now, I don’t think that he will get over 80 points. Even over 70 would be an incredible season. If he could even get 60 points, that would give him more points than any Canadiens player not named Max Pacioretty last season.
He is 30 years old now, and may be past his prime but those calculations tend to skew younger because only the best players have long careers. He is coming off a four-year KHL stretch that saw him get 1.31 points per game. He’s clearly at the top of his game.
His pure skill is something the Canadiens have been looking for since Marc Bergevin took over as GM, and even before then.
Radulov is on a one-year contract and if he really wants to be in the NHL, this is his last chance to prove it. If what we have seen is any indication, he’ll fit in perfectly and be able to provide the Canadiens with a huge amount of skill from the second line.
This could really be a win-win situation for both parties and finally give the Canadiens what they need.