Canadiens Gamble on Alexander Radulov

radulovThe Montreal Canadiens were also busy during the free agent frenzy on Friday, proving general manager Marc Bergevin’s tendency for risk-taking.

Fans were still rattled by the exit of P.K. Subban in exchange for Shea Weber when Bergevin pulled the trigger and signed Alexander Radulov to a one-year contract worth $5.75 million.

If the name gives you pause, it’s for good reason.

Radulov hasn’t played in the National Hockey League since 2011-2012, when he had seven points in nine games with the Nashville Predators. After being suspended by the Predators for a curfew violation, Radulov left for Russia. The suspension took place in the playoffs, by the way.

According to Bergevin, he’s done his homework on Radulov. And he is getting a highly-skilled player in the Nizhny Tagil native, but it’s hard to ignore the known issues.

Radulov said in April that he wanted to return to the NHL, but he also said he wanted to remain in Russia as recently as last week.

His commitment level will obviously be a question for some, but Bergevin has trust in his new acquisition – and it came in part because of new Hab Weber.

“It’s a gamble, for sure,” Bergevin said. “I met face to face with him and I talked to lot of people — Shea Weber who played with him in Nashville and (CSKA Moscow GM) Sergei Fedorov who had him as his captain. I did the homework but, at the end of the day, it’s still a gamble.”

As far as Radulov is concerned, what’s in the past is in the past.

“What happened in the past is in the past,” Radulov said. “I made a mistake and I’m not trying to say it wasn’t my mistake. Yes, I did it. But time goes by and you look back at what you should or should not have done. The NHL is the best league. I feel good and I really want to come back and play against the best players and try to win a Stanley Cup.”

There are some Quebec roots for Radulov, as he skated with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts for two seasons. He has developed into a quality scorer and could bring considerable offence to the Canadiens, if he can bury his issues and play with consistency.

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