Radulov's return to Nashville unlikely for 2011-12

Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 9:17pm

The likelihood of Alexander Radulov’s return to the Nashville Predators continues to increase.

With time running short, though, the high-scoring forward seems destined to play at least one more season in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, where he has been for the past three seasons.

“To me, it's getting pretty late,” Nashville General Manager David Poile said. “Their season starts in August. … I don’t think it’s going to happen [this season].

“I think we’ll be talking about next year.”

Poile said he discussed the situation with one of Radulov’s representatives last week at the NHL draft in St. Paul, Minn. The conversation left him more optimistic — although not completely convinced — that the Predators’ 2004 first-round draft pick (15th overall) eventually will make his way back to the franchise and the NHL.

“The KHL has seen a few cracks here,” Poile said. “On [Radulov’s] team, there’s a couple of top players they weren’t able to re-sign and they’re on other teams. A guy like [Radulov] is by himself on this team right now … So, we’ll see.”

Radulov averaged 22 goals and 42 points in two seasons before he bolted to the KHL, where he also averaged 22 goals but nearly 64 points over the past three seasons. He won that league’s Golden Stick award (most valuable player), his second straight, and was a first-team All-Star this past season.

The original contract he signed with Nashville remains suspended and guarantees the team his services for one season.

Radulov will turn 25 next week, which means he still offers considerable upside.