Marc Bergevin caught a lot of people by surprise by signing Alexander Radulov early in free agency, giving him a one year, $5.75 million deal. What do our writers think about this pickup?
Brian La Rose: After failing on so many other short-term gambles to shore up the right wing, I never thought Bergevin would go to that well again with Radulov, a player who had some prior baggage. That said, I think it’s a worthy gamble as Radulov gives Montreal some high end skill on the right side, turning that position from a weakness into a strength.
I also like going with the shorter term. Not only does it lower the risk, it also potentially buys them an extra protection spot for the upcoming expansion draft as Radulov won’t need to be protected (since he’ll be a free agent two weeks later unless he signs an extension before then). The money is a bit high for someone with such a small NHL track record but I’m sure they had to pay a bit more to convince him to take a one year deal without any trade protection.
The Habs needed an infusion of skill into their forward group. They got one of the most skilled players available in Radulov. It’s certainly a surprising signing but I think it’s a good one.
Alex Létourneau: Bergevin doesn’t care what you think. The man has stones. He got a right winger, and he was the best one that was available on July 1st. Now, has a few years back home matured him to the point where he’ll be a good boy? That’s the gamble and Montreal isn’t exactly the place to avoid temptation. Does a recovering alcoholic take a job at the brewery? Extreme comparison, but you get the idea.
Another interesting dynamic is Shea Weber, a teammate in Nashville and someone who went to bat for the guy, and was let down. Bergevin acknowledged that he talked to Weber before signing Radulov so you have to assume his response was a good one for Bergevin to move ahead.
Anyway, it’s a risky move given the player’s history but it’s a one year contract at a reasonable price. You have a top six scoring RW, which is what Montreal wanted/needed, so there you go. It feels like a win, but then again, I liked the Weber trade and have been living in fear since making that public.
Paul MacLeod: I think Bergevin already summarized my feelings on this deal in his press conference: low risk; potential high reward. Radulov fills one forward need and the money and term offered to Lucic, Okposo, and Ladd were as astronomical as they were ludicrous, so I am happy that Bergevin didn’t cave under pressure and sign one of those guys. Radulov is a scorer and he might thrive in Montreal – I certainly hope he does. It was a reasonable move on a day of insanity.
Craig Scharien: I love this deal. Radulov has been absolutely dominant in the KHL the past four years, racking up 238 points in just 181 games. He’s also put up 37 playoff points in 36 games the past couple of seasons. The former captain of CSKA Moscow has been widely regarded as one of the best players outside of the NHL. Immediate reaction to this signing has been mixed – not surprising given Radulov’s NHL past, but the fact is that Radulov could be exactly what the Canadiens are missing. He brings elite level skill and offensive creativity alongside good size. It’s important to note that Radulov is in no way Alex Semin 2.0, he is a driven, passionate competitor and a relentless attacking force.
While it is fair to be concerned about Radulov’s history of on and off ice antics, it has been widely reported that he has had no issues in recent years. He has acknowledged his mistakes and GM of CSKA Moscow, Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov, is among those singing his praises. Rather than get caught up in handing out ridiculous term to attract the likes of Okposo or Ladd, Bergevin has limited the risk associated with the signing by only giving Radulov a single year. The payoff for the signing could be massive, giving Montreal the true attacking threat they have been lacking in the top-six and adding another excellent shot to the power play that struggled last year.
Norm Szcyrek: The signing of Radulov is another free agent gamble by Bergevin. There’s no doubt that Radulov is a top class talent as an offensive scorer. He’s got great hands, hockey sense, skating, and a sniper’s touch around the net. On the Habs he could be their top right winger, with no disrespect to Brendan Gallagher. He’s not known as a defensively capable player and his effort level has not been consistent at all, at least during his previous stint in the NHL. Whether he can fit into Michel Therrien’s system is a big, big question.
If Radulov is successful in putting up some points for Montreal without getting into Therrien’s doghouse then I will mark this as a success. However, If I were a betting man, then I would put my money on this experiment failing.