Sigh of Relief: Preds Match Flyers’ Offer to Weber

Better get used that country music, Shea…

To say Preds fans are sighing with relief is quite an understatement. After much anticipation – and many ruined manicures – Music City and the rest of the hockey world was greeted with this:

Follow Kevin Wilson on Twitter at @KWilsonPreds

Moments later, the Predators released the official press statement, just to clarify:
Nashville, Tenn. (July 24, 2012) – In the most important hockey transaction in franchise history, Nashville Predators Chairman Tom Cigarran, President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile and CEO Jeff Cogen announced today that the team has matched the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet between the Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Shea Weber, insuring that the Predators’ captain will remain with the franchise for the next 14 years.
The decision to enter into the largest contract in franchise history was made by all parts of the organization, including ownership, hockey operations and business operations.

Although the largest in Predators franchise history, Weber’s $110 million, 14-year contract still falls to Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals’ 13-year, $124 million deal. Wowza.

Throughout this gut-wrenching ordeal, one thing that cannot be overlooked is that, not only did Nashville hang onto their captain, they also stuck it to one of the wealthiest, most-powerful franchises in the league. By doing this, the Predators proved themselves as more than just a development team for higher powers, such as the Flyers, the Rangers, the Penguins, for example. Writing out a check for that much is painful for a adolescent team such as Nashville, but matching that offer means so much more in the long run for the Predators than just nabbing their most-influential captain for fourteen years.

Cowgirl butts will continue to drive him nuts for the next three years.

Overshadowed by the matching offer, the Predators also signed another key component to Nashville’s run towards the Cup. Forward Colin Wilson was signed a few hours before the news release of Shea Weber, shaking hands on a three-year, $6 million deal. Though we questioned wether Wilson would remain a Predator due to his run-ins with Coach Barry Trotz, we are glad to see such a valuable player sticking around for three more years.

Again, with this matching offer, the Predators take a swing at the bigger brothers of the NHL, proving that “little brother” isn’t afraid to grab the bull by the horns and hang onto what belongs to them.

 

The Radulov Rundown: Why Predators Fans should Celebrate

Should Predators fans be excited about Radulov's possible return? We say, "YES."

We we going to try to avoid jumping on this “Radulov Watch” shenanigan, but after reading into many of the reports from the KHL and the NHL, it seems we should do a rundown of our own as well (just in case the big man himself decides to come back tomorrow).

So the big question is, why should Nashville Predators fans be excited about all of this Radulov talk? Most fans of today’s Predators never got to see #47 in action at the Bridgestone, so most don’t know what all the fuss is about. Sure, you can watch YouTube videos like this one:


… Or this one:

… Or heck, even this one:

From any of those videos above, you can tell Radulov’s an extraordinary player and why he’s considered the best hockey player in the world outside of the National Hockey League. So why, why, why (?) would he run to the Kontinental Hockey League instead of playing with fellow great players in the NHL?

In the beginning… 

Alexander Radulov was drafted in the 1st Round (15th Overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft at the tender age of 18 but did not hit ice with the Predators until the 2006-07 season. In that season alone, Radulov racked up 18 goals, 19 assists, and 37 points. His 2007-08 season was even better, totaling 26 goals, 32 assists, and 58 points. Gaining that much momentum at only 21, could you imagine if he returned now with the experience and maturity he has generated over in the KHL?

Running Back to Russia…

With such a prominent career in the NHL blooming, why would a young, 21-year-old aspiring athlete ditch what so many young hockey players strive to reach and return home? There are many theories behind Radulov’s motives:

  • Immaturity – Take a note from last year with Colin Wilson, Radulov had some immaturity problems, but what 21-year-old male finally on his own doesn’t? Isn’t that what college is? Unfortunately, college is nothing like a professional sports team in a foreign country and, if things aren’t going your way, why not run back to the safety net that is home?
  • Pride – On the same lines as immaturity, pride can sometimes make people do some silly things. When you know you’re great, why wouldn’t you want to go somewhere you’re the greatest player in the league and you have no rivals? In the NHL, although Radulov was outstanding in his own rights, he still had to compete against the likes of fellow 2004 1st Round draftee Alex Ovechkin and 2005 1st Rounder Sidney Crosby. Why not take a deal in the KHL to be your own star instead of possibly competing against the likes of those guys or others?
  • Lack of Confidence – Radulov has a tendency to overreact when scoring a goal. You definitely cannot mistake when he makes a goal, for his celebrations are a little on the eccentric side. Rumor has it that older guys like J.P. Dumont and Jason Arnott would give the young Russian a hard time about his exaggeration, thus finally sending the young gun packing.

Beside these three factors, there are probably a ton more circulating about, much more than we can cover in a blog post. However, with this cons come pros:

  • Maturity – Alexander Radulov is now 25 (going on 26 on July 5th) and, after a successful career thus far in the KHL, the young Russian is passing the hump of the twenties. Although most of the time maturity comes with age (most is the key word), Radulov has grown, both as a player and as a person, since leaving the NHL and if he intends to create a legacy in the NHL, now is the time to return.
  • Humility – Though we can’t think of any possible way Radulov has been humbled by his experience in the KHL (he did achieve the title of greatest player in that league), as stated before, pride and immaturity walk hand-in-hand and so does maturity and humility. Hopefully, with Radulov’s maturity, his need for competition has risen and he will set his pride aside to share the podium with fellow teammates.
  • Confidence – Wether it was true or not, Radulov will have no one to “hurt his feelings” due to the fact most of the team, minus David Legwand and Martin Erat, have moved on. In fact, Radulov, Suter, and Weber were all pretty close, so Radulov would be returning to old, familiar faces. That, and could Radulov possibly keep Suter and Weber in Nashville with his return? Let’s not float down that road just yet…

Okay, okay, okay… So you still aren’t impressed. How will he improve the already power lines such as the SK-MF-ME and the AK-SK-DL lines? Although he was embarrassingly terrible in defense, what he lacks in that department, Radulov goes above and beyond to make up in offensive gold. Both patient and skilled with the puck, Alexander Radulov can do just about everything with a puck a defense and goalies have nightmares about. So his defense was terrible while he was in Nashville, that was almost five years ago. Radulov has proven himself as a complete player in the KHL, growing offensively and defensively alike.

It’s truly hard to explain into words how powerful Alexander Radulov is and, with the NHL and the KHL stepping out of his way, Radulov can basically ‘Pass Go and collect $200’.  This, of course, has sent the other Western Conference coaches and General Managers into an uproar, but the NHL sees nothing wrong with Radulov hoping on a plane and hitting the ice in a Predators sweater tomorrow.

Maybe this post helped, maybe it confused you even more; which ever the case, Alexander Radulov would be like the prodigal son returning to his father, or so we are hoping. Not only would Radulov extend the Predators chances in the playoffs, he might help them reach the almighty Stanley Cup. That, or he’ll do absolutely nothing. By the way the other GMs and coaches are having a meltdown of his possible return, we are thinking Radulov will be a force to be reckoned with… Something the Predators have been needing for a long time.

So, until tomorrow, the fateful day that is the Ides of March (and what is also Peyton Manning Watch for Nashville), may Alexander Radulov bid Russia goodbye and hop a plane straight for Nashville, Tennessee.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe)