With reports of Radulov’s return, Predators players comment on what he brings to the team
It appears that Alexander Radulov and Salavat Yulaev Ufa his Kontinental Hockey League team, have reached an agreement that will allow the forward to return to Nashville to finish the NHL season, according to Slava Malamud of Sports-Express. Malamud, a foreign correspondent for the Russian sports daily, tweeted the news Sunday night.
Malamud also tweeted that Radulov was headed to Ufa on Monday and would likely be in Nashville later in the week.
The news broke in the middle of the Predators game in Anaheim, a game that Nashville won 3-1.
After the game, some of the Predators players expressed exactly what adding Radulov to the lineup would mean for Nashville.
Patric Hornqvist says Radulov’s offensive capabilities will without a doubt help Nashville, but that expectations for the team are to win every game with or without the dynamic forward in the lineup.
“He is a great player. He scored 58 points one season and had 26 goals. He is going to help us out a lot. Everyone says he is a good guy and works hard,” Hornqvist said, adding, “We have high expectations in this room. I don’t think it is going to get higher when he gets here. We want to win every single game we play.”
Mike Fisher says it would be excited to add Radulov to the roster. “We know what type of player he is. That would be huge to add him up front for us. That would be exciting. It adds more depth to our team,” he said.
When asked about expectations, Fisher says the Predators have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and Radulov’s return will help achieve that goal. “We expect a lot of ourselves. We feel like we have a great squad. We think we have a chance to win and he is going to help that,” he said.
Not everyone in the Predators locker room is familiar with Radulov as a player. Netminder Anders Lindback has never seen Radulov play a game live or on television, including international events such as the World Championships or Olympics.
“I heard he is a great player and scorer. He is going to add more firepower up front as we go down the stretch and into the playoffs,” Lindback said.
While Fisher and Hornqvist maintain the expectations for Nashville could not be any higher, Lindback says that he thinks the return of Radulov will put some more pressure on Nashville in the post season. “Yeah, every time you add a player, the group gets better. We made some great trades before the deadline, and I hope we can keep continuing on what we got here and take a couple more steps.”
Predators Captain Shea Weber played with Radulov during his two NHL seasons. Weber says he leared the latest reports just two minutes prior to talking with the reporters. “We were trying to win the game. I heard that just two minutes ago. Legwand said he was talking about it. When I see him, I guess I will believe it.”
Though Weber maintained the “I’ll believe it when I see it” mantra of the past couple of seasons, the Captain admitted the team will be excited if Radulov returns. “Everyone knows what a good player he is, how dynamic he is and what he is able to do with the puck. He will be another element and add some depth to us. He is an exciting player,” Weber said.
Head Coach Barry Trotz commented on the situation after the game. While the team gave no official news to confirm the report, Trotz did say he was confident Radulov would be returning this season.
“I felt pretty confident he was coming over,” Trotz said, adding, “It sounded like there was a release problem. David [Poile] had talked to his agent. His agent said he was planning on making his way to Nashville. It was the release that was holding him up. He was planning on getting on a plane on Friday, from what I understand.”
Trotz was careful to qualify his statements. If everything the report says is accurate, then Trotz is hoping for Radulov to play on Thursday when the Nashville Predators take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think it is great timing this week. I don’t expect him to play against the Oilers, but I would like to see him in Pittsburgh, if everything is correct. I know probably what you know off of Twitter and some of those reports.”
Like Fisher, Hornqvist and Lindback, Weber was also asked about expectations of the Nashville Predators. Instead of talking about the team’s expectations with or without Radulov in the lineup, Weber talked about the team’s performance on the current road trip that just concluded with the win over Anaheim.
“We have to be a lot better. We expect to compete with the best. But I don’t think we are where we should be. We need to make sure we are more consistent and play with a better effort,” Weber said.
Radulov’s return should certainly make playing more consistent and with better effort a little bit easier for the Nashville Predators.