Nashville will part ways with Alexander Radulov, but still has decisions to make on Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
By THE SPORTS XCHANGEFS Tennessee
The Predators made their first big move of what will prove to be a crucial offseason. Nashville announced that it will part ways with right wing Alexander Radulov and hopes to trade his rights to another NHL team. Radulov is also expected to pursue signing in the Kontinental Hockey League.
It's not necessarily surprising that the Predators decided to do this. Radulov came back with much fanfare in March after spending three seasons in the KHL. Radulov left Nashville in 2008 with one year remaining on his contract. He was suspended for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal against Phoenix for a curfew violation -- which proved the final strike against him.
Radulov's departure doesn't exactly create an offensive hole for Nashville, but it doesn't help with the Predators' almost never ending search for more scoring. At the same time, it seemed as if the Predators and Radulov weren't a great fit.
It will be interesting to see how this affects Nashville's attempt to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent
Ryan Suter. It's tough to believe that general manager David Poile didn't consult Suter before making this move. Also, Shea Weber is a restricted free agent and was instrumental in bringing Radulov back.
In regard to Nashville's draft, the Predators figure to make a deal or two to move up. They don't have a pick in the first or second round. Poile had said Suter's rights aren't in play, but you have to wonder if he will change his mind if Suter and the Predators don't come to terms before July 1.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Predators had never defeated the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the postseason before these playoffs. Both times they previously played Detroit in the playoffs, the Predators were vanquished in six games. Both times, the Red Wings were the No. 1 seed and the Predators were the No. 8 seed. This time fourth-seeded Nashville beat the fifth-seeded Red Wings in five games, wrapping up their series on home ice.
TURNING POINT: Weber's concussion on Dec. 24 changed the dynamic of Nashville's season. The Predators lost just three games in between Dec. 26 -- when his injury was announced -- and Feb. 2. This put the Predators in prime playoff position and helped set them up with home-ice advantage for the first round as the No. 4 seed in the West.
Pekka Rinne reached the final of the EA Sports NHL13 cover vote. Rinne faced off against Philadelphia C Claude Giroux. Voting ended June 4. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 20. It was an uphill battle for the small-market Predators, but Rinne was able to vanquish such big-market foes as Chicago's Patrick Sharp, the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist and the Islanders' Jonathan Tavares. "The real tangible part is when he's on the cover it further solidifies Nashville for what we know it is, as a great hockey market," Predators president Sean Henry said. "And all the continent knows it as well, to put one of our marquee players on the cover forever."
--For the second time in two seasons, the Predators will be looking for a coach to guide their American Hockey League franchise. Ian Herbers left the Milwaukee Admirals to coach the University of Alberta. "I have kept a list of guys I've talked to before. I take resumes all the time with coaches looking for opportunities. I've gone back and reviewed them," Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton said. "I've taken input from our staff in terms of who an up-and-coming coach might be. My background of knowing people in hockey helps in terms of picking guys who might fit into what we're all about."
--RW Alexander Radulov's time in Nashville is almost over. On June 5, general manager David Poile said that Nashville will part ways with the forward. Radulov bolted the Predators in the 2008 offseason for the KHL. He came back in March for a nine-game stint. In that span he had seven points. Despite being a co-leader in Nashville's playoff scoring with six points, he will be remembered for being suspended for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal. "The best way to characterize it is it's time to not pursue Rad anymore," Poile said. "If he wants to play in the KHL, that's fine. If he wants to play with another NHL team, I'd be willing to trade his rights."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I have reached out to a few teams in the NHL to see whether there is any interest. If there is, there's the possibility we could trade his rights." -- General manager David Poile on RW Alexander Radulov