NHL.com X-Factor: Radulov's return adds to Preds' offense

Sunday, 04.8.2012 / 3:00 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com X-Factor: Radulov\'s return adds to Preds\' offense

Alexander Radulov's return to the NHL has been a whirlwind.

In a stunning turn of events, Radulov, playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, was allowed to return to the NHL after the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline -- and without having to pass through waivers -- because he was still under contract to the Nashville Predators, the team on which he had walked out on four years earlier. With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Radulov didn't get a ton of time to acclimate.

Nonetheless, he has made the most of his opportunity. In his first eight games, Radulov had points in five (three goals, three assists) and in one of the two in which he did not he conjured the shootout winner.

"I think he lives for those kinds of situations," Predators captain Shea Weber said. "I think he likes to be the go-to guy, and that was a situation where he had a chance and, obviously, he made the most of it."

With Radulov rejoining the Predators four years after abandoning his contract to play in his native Russia and the KHL, Nashville possesses a threat the likes of which it has not had since Radulov's initial departure. He was a two-time scoring champion in the KHL, and when last seen in the NHL he totaled 26 goals in 81 games as a 21-year-old.

Weber sees a player who is a little bit bigger and stronger, but with the same dynamism as in 2007-08.

"He was able to score some exciting goals and I think that side is still there, but he's a little bit more mature and, obviously, he's played more hockey, so he's a little bit smarter as a player," Weber said.

Coach Barry Trotz has settled into playing Radulov on a line with newly-acquired Belarusian wing Andrei Kostitsyn and long-time Predator David Legwand at center. Trotz said he is not worried about the defensive deficiencies of such an offensive-minded trio, but they do give him reason to be wary.

"I'm concerned about them trying to be a little bit too fancy sometimes," Trotz said.

In a 2-1 shootout win against Minnesota earlier this month, Trotz said the line kept converging on the middle.

"When you're converging three guys in the middle and they have five guys in the middle -- I'm no genius -- but I know the math doesn't add up there," he said. "So you just have to play the game the way the game is asking you to play it."

Radulov said his biggest adjustment -- more so than the sleep he lost from jet lag -- has been to the smaller ice surface, as compared to the Olympic-sized rinks in the KHL.

"It's more hard to adjust for a game because the ice [is] smaller and maybe I don't have much time," he said. "The system, too, you know it's a new team. It's been a while. I wasn't here. Just need some time to adjust. Looks like everything's going not bad. I need to keep working."

Trotz said Radulov is smart and -- while some elements of the Predsators' system don't come naturally to the wing -- the coach is confident Radulov will quickly master the nuances.

It's an understatement to say the team is glad to have him back. Opponents might not be, but in the short time since he has returned, to quote Radulov, it looks like everything's going not bad.

Author: John Manasso | NHL.com Correspondent

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Wilson 14 5 8 8 13
R. Josi 14 1 8 -6 9
R. Johansen 14 4 4 0 8
J. Neal 14 4 4 1 8
M. Fisher 14 5 2 -1 7
M. Ekholm 14 3 4 2 7
S. Weber 14 3 4 -7 7
R. Ellis 14 0 6 0 6
F. Forsberg 14 2 2 -11 4
M. Salomaki 14 1 1 2 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 7 7 0 .906 2.63
C. Hutton 0 0 0 .667 3.00