Alex Radulov feature displays his maturity since last NHL stint

A big storyline coming into the 2016-17 NHL season was the return of Alexander Radulov to North America after spending four years playing in the KHL in his native Russia, signing a one-year, $5.75 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens.

Once upon a time, Radulov was a high draft pick by Nashville (15th overall, 2004) but essentially ran himself out of the league following two stints in North America that didn’t work out. The second time, in particular, was especially ugly, benched during the second round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs after violating his curfew. The Predators lost that series in five games to the Phoenix Coyotes as Radulov missed games three and four of that series after being spotted at a bar in Arizona with teammate Andrei Kostitsyn the night prior to the second game of the series, which prompted the discipline. Radulov was told to take a hike after the season, to the surprise of nobody.

While many felt Radulov had played his final NHL game following a second ugly exit from Nashville – he bolted in 2008 to join the KHL with a year remaining on his entry-level deal – Marc Bergevin was a man who believes in second chances. The Canadiens general manager brought Radulov in over the summer, signing the forward to a low-risk, high-reward that so far has reaped the awards and then some. Radulov is second on the Canadiens with 35 points in 39 games as Montreal holds a commanding eight-point lead in the Atlantic Division standings with 63 points, slotting the Habs fourth in the playoff standings with 34 games to play.

Radulov’s comeback and newfound maturity was highlighted in a Sportsnet piece over the weekend written by Ryan Dixon, documenting the 30-year-old’s time in the KHL to the mark he’s made on the Canadiens dressing room.

Of course, being 30 and a veteran playing for what potentially could be a big contract likely plays a big role in the evolution of Radulov as a player, on and off the ice. Your world view tends to change for the better as you get older (usually). But nonetheless a great story of a unbelievably gifted player who finally appears to be getting it.

You can put it in the box score score as another win for Bergevin, who seems to be having one of those ‘everything he touches turns to gold’ type of years.

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Thoughts Are My Own: Trouba Has No Leverage

Thoughts as you realize it’s the first day of November. Woah, it’s the first day of November.

*Jacob Trouba is being Jonathan Drouin-ed. And will continue to be. The Jets want what no team will give for his services. He’s a solid, top four defenseman at 21 years old. He has the size, he has the projection of being a top defenseman. Winnipeg will let the situation ride itself out until the December 1 deadline, where which Trouba will forgo a full season should he not be signed then, which only hurts his value. Ball is in the court of Kevin Cheveldayoff and company.

*Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid facing off for the first time ever is the headliner of Tuesday’s games, and rightfully so; they’re special talents, the two most recent first overall picks, and two of the best in recent memory. But here’s some other matchups that might catch your eye: Tampa Bay at Islanders, Steven Stamkos vs. John Tavares in another showdown of first overall picks; Washington at Winnipeg, Alex Ovechkin vs. Patrik Laine, the greatest goal scorer of the post-lockout years against what looks like the next great goal scorer the game bears witness to; and Anaheim at Los Angeles needs no explanation.

*The matchup (not Tuesday, obviously, but down the road) I find most compelling is Toronto vs. Buffalo. Matthews vs. Jack Eichel in a showdown of the two top American youngsters, two guys who are among the faces in U.S. hockey as teenagers. This is only made better by the natural geographic rivalry that exists with the two franchises fighting for the love of southern Ontario.

*Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that there will be no changes to the All-Star Game voting format, which if true is the right decision. Last year’s game was as successful as it had been in quite some time, no need to overthink it. The league has bigger fish to fry.

*Nothing wrong with Mikhail Sergachev, the ninth overall pick in this past June’s draft, being sent back to Windsor. He’d played just three games in Montreal, might as well get another year of OHL experience under his belt. He’ll be on a Spitfires team that features fellow first rounder Logan Stanley on the back line and 11th overall pick Logan Brown up front. Sean Day was a third round pick.

*Ohio State hockey is out to a 5-0-2 start to the season, moving up to No. 11 in the USCHO.com poll. The Buckeyes should only expound on the strong record, with doubleheaders against Robert Morris, UConn, and RPI awaiting in the next three weekends. The big challenge doesn’t come until after Thanksgiving, when Ohio State travels to Minnesota to open its Big 10 schedule.

Links

Dave Tippett has a motorcycle shop in his house.

Bruce Boudreau was ‘grumpy’ at the Wild practice on Monday as Minnesota rode a short bench for multitude of reasons.

The latest in the class-action lawsuit that faces the CHL and threatens to change the landscape of major junior hockey in Canada.

Teams led by Peter Chiarelli and Marc Bergevin benefitting from questionable offseason transactions the two general managers made for the respective organizations, the Edmonton Oilers (Chiarelli) and the Montreal Canadiens (Bergevin).

Jay Bouwmeester reflects upon his career to date as he approaches his 1,000th career NHL game.

Coyotes rookie forward Christian Dvorak gets sent down to the AHL. The 20-year-old had three assists in seven games while averaging 13:45 of ice time per night.

A question nobody has asked, or even thought of – could Matthews/McDavid be the next great NHL rivalry?

In case you missed it: Episode two of the Bobcast with Bob McKenzie. He does a really good job with these, really offers a bit of everything; from inside information to the sharing of knowledge of the game to even veering outside the game. Worth the listen.