It’s Off to Europe for Rinne, Hornqvist, & Josi: Who’s Next?

Pekka Rinne, Patric Hornqvist, & Roman Josi have hit the trail to Europe.

With all of September’s preseason games cancelled and three already missed, the Predators (along with players across the league) are struggling with the decision of wether to wait out the NHL Lockout or head over seas to continue what they do best.

Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alexander Semin have been vocal about their departure for the ‘Mother Land’, prompting fellow NHLers to consider the same decisions, wether they nestle in the KHL or not.

Rumors have been swirling around particular Preds, with Martin Erat supposedly returning to the Czech Republic and Sergei Kostitsyn possibly signing with a KHL team, but the only truth for Predators fans is this: Pekka Rinne has signed with a KHL team, Patric Hornqvist signs with Sweden, and Roman Josi (who actually made his announcement earlier in the week) returns to Switzerland.

Amidst rumors of him signing with the Finnish Elite League, Pekka was adamant about settling with a KHL team instead of one in his native Finland. Rinne will be goaltending for Dinamo Minsk out of Belarus during the duration of the lockout.

Patric Hornqvist naturally returned to Sweden, signing with Djurgården, a key team of Sweden’s Allsvenskan league. Preds’ first rounder Pontus Aberg is active on Djurgården’s roster, giving Hornqvist the opportunity to help the youngster prepare for (maybe one day) a shot in the National Hockey League.

Roman Josi was the first to announce his departure to Europe under the Predators roof, shipping back to S.C. Bern of Switzerland. Former Pred J.P. Dumont played for S.C. Bern last season, gaining eight goals in just 31 games. Josi is expected to hit the ice for S.C. Bern on September 29th.

With Pekka, Patric, and Roman packing up and heading overseas, it’s only a matter of time before the other members of the Nashville Predators inevitably agree to the same decision. As mentioned, SK74 and Martin Erat are already in negations with European teams, so only time will tell when they sign.

The NHL and NHLPA have scheduled a formal meeting on Friday to discuss options on the current lockout, hopefully coming to some sort of an agreement.

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)