Alexander Radulov wants to play for the Nashville Predators next season.
That is the latest word — maybe — according to General Manager David Poile, based on a conversation Wednesday morning between Radulov andPaul Fenton, the Predators’ assistant general manager.
Radulov has played the last three seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League and has served as a flashpoint in strained relations between the NHL and Russia’s hockey federation because he signed his KHL deal while still under contract with Nashville.
“[He says] he can get out of his contract,” Poile said. “I don’t know what he wants to do. … We [told] him … we can trade his rights, but he said, ‘No, no. I want to play in Nashville.’
“So that’s where we’re at.”
Radulov has one year remaining on the entry-level NHL contract he signed after being drafted 15th overall by Nashville in 2004. That deal has been suspended since he signed to play back in his home country.
He scored 44 goals and had 51 assists in two seasons for Nashville before before he bolted to the KHL. He was named that league’s most valuable player in 2010.
It was reported in October that Radulov signed a new three-year deal to remain in Russia.
“If Radulov came back here, would he be a benefit to our team?” Poile said. “Absolutely.”
• Staying put: Poile already has an idea of who can take the place of Brent Peterson behind the Predators’ bench, but the emotion that bubbled forth from Poile as he addressed the situation made it clear he considers the associate head coach irreplaceable.
Poile said Milwaukee Admirals coach Lane Lambert would be a leading candidate if, as expected, Peterson relinquishes his current position because of the advancement of Parkinson’s disease.
“Lane would get strong consideration,” Poile said. “Just like we’re developing players, we’d like to think our coaches are developing also. That’s something I want to talk to Barry [Trotz] about when it’s appropriate. That will be in the next couple of weeks.”
The only other time Trotz, the head coach, had an opening on his staff, he hired then-Milwaukee coach Peter Horachek.
Poile stressed that Peterson will have a role in the orgnization. Peterson joked that he will fetch coffee for Trotz.
• Money matters: Three players — left wing Steve Sullivan, right wing Joel Ward and defenseman Shane O’Brien — are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason, but the team’s primary goal is to cut a new deal with restricted free agent Shea Weber, the team’s captain.
Poile said he and Weber’s agent had numerous discussions throughout the season but failed to come to terms on an extension.
“I haven’t talked to [my agent] in a while now, but … now that the season’s over and both sides want to get something done, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time,” Weber said.
• Head games: Center Matthew Lombardi and defenseman Francis Bouillon remain on the roster and each is under contract at least through next season. Neither is definitely in the team’s plans for next season because of continued issues with concussions.
Lombardi missed the final 80 games of the season after he was injured Oct. 13. Bouillon was sidelined Jan. 13.
Poile said Bouillon has made more progress in his recovery than Lombardi has.
• Chipping in: Forwards Matt Halischuk and Blake Geoffrion, who were reassigned to Milwaukee on Tuesday, each scored, but the Admirals lost 4-2 in Game 7 of their second-round series with Houston and were eliminated from the AHL playoffs.
Halischuk, Geofrrion and defenseman Jonathon Blum, who also was ressigned Tuesday, all endured two playoff eliminations in as many days.