Alex Radulov suited up for his first NHL game in four years tonight after having spent the last four years in the KHL. He hasn't had much time to practice with the team yet, but he got a shot to break into the line-up tonight as the Predators battled the Pittsburgh Penguins. While there would probably be a little rust as Radulov worked to develop some chemistry with his new linemates, the hockey instincts he has should still be sharp after just finishing his season in the KHL.
After four year, it appeared that Radulov left off right where it appeared his career was starting before making the jump to Russia. They say good goal scorers don't avoid high traffic areas, that good goal scorers go to these areas because that's where the puck is. Here's Radulov putting that theory in motion.
This has to bode well for the Predators as they are getting back a world-class talent who can certainly score. Add into the fact that he's willing to get his nose dirty once in a while, and the Predators become that much more deep.
Now I know some of you might be saying, "Teebz, it's one game. Let's see how he does in the playoffs against Detroit". And you're right in that one game does not a career revival make. Detroit has shut down many offensive-gifted players in many series, so Radulov will have his work cut out for him. But he showed that he isn't afraid to go to the front of the net against the Penguins, and that's a good start for him because Radulov showed he's willing to go there.
Time will tell if this move by the Predators was a good one at this juncture of the season, but getting a talent like Radulov back is, on the surface, very good. It's even better when Radulov is willing to do the dirty work rather than float on the perimeter. Both Radulov and the Predators will benefit from that attitude.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!