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Interesting to read the Nashville papers today and see Predators GM David Poile announce that star winger Alexander Radulov will not be returning from Russia.
The intrigue lies in the explanation. Poile said Radulov apparently can't get out of his KHL contract (no irony lost there given that Radulov bolted on his existing NHL deal a year ago to begin with). But the NHL said that's not the case.
"There is nothing that precludes Alexander Radulov from resuming his NHL career," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com via e-mail Friday.
In other words, the NHL believes the only reason the talented Radulov won't be back on this side of the ocean next season is simply because he doesn't want to.
This is a tough one to figure out. We're told Radulov sought out Predators coach Barry Trotz and Nashville star blueliner Shea Weber at the world championships in Switzerland in April, apparently to gauge their reaction if he decided to come back. From all accounts, he was told they would love to have him back.
Perhaps a bigger factor at play here is next February's Olympics. Radulov can indeed come back to the NHL if he wants, as Daly said, but maybe Radulov fears retribution from the people running hockey in his mother country when it comes to selecting its Olympic team. Either way, the Preds won't have a big-time talent for a second consecutive season.
Martin Biron update
Martin Biron enters the weekend still unsigned. There were phone calls, a source said, from Edmonton and Colorado, among other teams, but the Oilers opted in the end for Nikolai Khabibulin and the Avalanche with Craig Anderson. The three-team battle for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustafsson (Toronto, Dallas, San Jose) may have a bearing on Biron's situation. Once Gustafsson makes his choice, maybe that opens up slots for Biron.
Derek Morris update
A source said Friday there's interest from a "few contenders" for UFA blueliner Derek Morris, who finished last season with the New York Rangers after being picked up from the Phoenix Coyotes at the trade deadline. Scratch Washington off his list. A Caps source said Friday they're not interested. The Bruins? They've been looking for a top-four guy and struck out, at least for now, on Toronto's Tomas Kaberle and they inquired about Morris at the trade deadline last March.