Top 5 one-and-done Canadiens: #1 Alex Radulov

The Russian forward won the hearts of Montrealers in his one season with the Canadiens.

In this series we look at the top five Canadiens since the year 2000 who made the biggest impact on the team in their only season of play on the team.

Alex Radulov (2016-2017), 54 points

Alex Radulov was a highly talented junior in the QMJHL for the Quebec Ramparts when he was drafted in the first round by the Nashville Predators, but he was also a very troubled problem child for them as well.

Radulov signed a three-year entry level contract in January 2006, part-way through the season. He completed the season plus played one more before packing his bags for Russia in 2008, where he would earn substantially more money than with Nashville.

He played in the KHL for four seasons before returning to the NHL towards the end of the 2011-12 season, where he agreed to honour the final year of his entry-level contract with the Predators.

During the 2012 playoff run Radulov was suspended for violating team curfew along with teammate Andrei Kostitsyn. At the conclusion of the season he was not qualified by the Predators, hence becoming an unrestricted free agent, and returned to the KHL for another four seasons.

Despite all the uncertainty and presumed disciplinary issues, Radulov was an incredible hockey talent at every level and every league he played in.

In June 2016 rumours began to circulate that Radulov wanted to come back to the NHL once again, but looking for a new multi-year contract speculated to be worth $7.5M per season. The Canadiens were rumoured to be in talks, but talk seemed to die down due to the asking price. Then Detroit was involved. Then they weren’t.

Then this:

Montreal had in fact secured one of the biggest free agent forwards for one year, at a reasonable cost of $5.75M.

If there was any trepidation about bringing him in, it was quickly dispelled. Radulov slotted in brilliantly on the first line opposite captain Max Pacioretty, and the two developed an excellent chemistry.

Radulov became a fan favourite for incredible display of talent and his exuberant celebrations that stood out among the rest of the reserved group of players. In a way, he filled the void left by P.K. Subban in terms of delivering an exciting and entertaining product.

In 76 games with the Canadiens he scored 18 goals and added 36 assists for 54 points, including 16 points on the powerplay. He ended up second in team scoring.

At the conclusion of the season Radulov stated his desire to remain in Montreal, but ultimately the player and the team were unable to come to terms. He signed a five-year deal with the Dallas Stars worth $6.25M per season.

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