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McKenzie predicts ‘absolutely fascinating negotiation’ on Radulov contract

(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The Montreal Canadiens’ signing of Alex Radulov to a one-year, $5.75 million contract July 1 was met with much derision in the marketplace at the time, although part of that reaction was due to the unfortunate timing of having come only days after the extremely unpopular trade of P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber.

The winger has produced 15 goals and 47 points in 65 games for the Canadiens, and has quieted doubters in the process by being a much different presence around the team than he was perceived to be before coming aboard.

Has his value really elevated to the point where Marc Bergevin might actually ink Radulov to an eight-year contract this summer though?

That scenario seems highly unlikely – particularly with his 31st birthday looming July 5 – but that’s apparently the opening salvo from the player’s camp in contract negotiations.

“As Tony Marinaro first reported on TSN 690 Thursday morning, his original ask is for eight years,” noted Pierre LeBrun on Thursday evening’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading. “And that’s not going to happen in Montreal, I don’t think.

“But it’s a negotiation, right. I mean, things start at a certain point and then you try to find the sweet spot in between. I would think that five years would probably do it, at least in terms of term, but for now eight years is not going to happen with the Montreal Canadiens.

“Lots of time before July 1.”

Eight years.

Eight.

“Is that a legitimate starting point?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a legitimate starting point – it’s a starting point,” said Bob McKenzie during a Friday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690. “I don’t think you can blame the agents for Radulov for starting at the top end.

“I’m sure in a perfect world the Montreal Canadiens probably want another one-year deal. They know they’re not going to get it. The agent probably knows they’re not getting an eight-year deal. But you start there and work your way down.

“It’s going to be just an absolutely fascinating negotiation. Radulov, as you guys know, he’s a really important player on a Montreal Canadiens team that has a tough time generating offense and he’s been very, very good this year. Although his impact on the team seems to have been lessened since he’s run into some injuries along the way and some of the magic he had earlier in the season – it’s not that it’s not there, it’s just that he hasn’t been as ubiquitous a presence offensively as he was for quite some time there.

“And for the longest time it seemed like every time the Montreal Canadiens scored a goal he figured in in some way. He seemed to be sort of the fulcrum of the offensive attack. Sometimes it was scoring, but more often than not it was making really good plays.

“So now the question becomes – I’m sure the Montreal Canadiens, in a perfect world, would love to give him a three-year deal. He’s going to be 31 years old by the time this deal kicks in. Take him through to 34. And if you’re Radulov, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to happen,’ because he knows if he goes to the open market on July 1, somebody is going to give him more than three years. Now, how many more years? That’s a really good question. And I don’t know the answer to that question.

“There’s not a lot of money in the system right now. But the way you work around not a lot of money in the system because of the cap crunch is to offer security, is to offer more years. So might he have to take a bit of a discount on his AAV to get a six or a seven-year deal from somebody? Maybe he could, and maybe he would, and maybe somebody will offer him six or seven years. Part of me says I’d be surprised, but the flip side is good hockey players are hard to come by.

“There was significant interest in this player. I mean, he had more teams than the Montreal Canadiens to choose from and he had some teams that were offering more than one year last year, but he decided he thought Montreal was the best fit.

“So it’s going to be fascinating to see if the Montreal Canadiens will go as high as five years, which seems like the mid-point. And if I were Radulov, I would want to try to get something that takes me by my 35th birthday, so that I’m not up for a contract and asking for a 35-and-over deal where most teams then are only going to be prepared to give you a year at a time because of the different rules for players who are 35-and-over in the NHL.”

There are a few notes worth revisiting from Radulov’s re-entry to the NHL.

Two weeks before free agency opened last summer, Darren Dreger reported on Radulov’s initial ask from teams.

“The last time I checked, which was a week or so ago, he still wants a ton of money,” Dreger indicated June 16, 2016. “And he wants a two-year contract, and he wanted upwards of $7 million per year. There’s no one in the league, as far as I can tell, that’s going to be willing to pony up that money.”

Given Radulov’s track record at the time, that level of an ask – especially on a two-year deal – was seen as fairly ridiculous around the league.

In that same mid-June report, Dreger also offered this:

“There are teams with interest,” the Insider noted. “And again, Detroit seems to have a million irons in the fire. I mean Kenny Holland , he’s working overtime to renovate that roster. They have interest in Radulov, but their interest is on a one-year term, and probably around 4, 4-5. I think that if Radulov is willing to come back down to reality, and look at a shorter term like a one-year contract, and around $4-5 million, he’ll find a home. But otherwise, if he’s going to stick to the two-year term, he’s going to wait.”

LeBrun also had this note in October:

LeBrun, for what it’s worth, also had a notion that Bergevin’s gamble on Radulov might land positively.

Source: TSN 690, TSN, TSN 690

For reference: Covering the Insiders

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