Google “NHL All-Star Game” and you’re sure to find lists abound of players who were snubbed by All-Star voting. Panarin, Marchessault, Werenski, Schiefele, Talbot; all these guys’ names have been thrown around as some of the biggest All-Star snubs of the season.
But what about Alexander Radulov?
There’s no doubt that Radulov’s teammates Carey Price and Shea Weber are deserving of the distinction, but so is he. Radulov has been one of Montreal’s most important players since joining the club in the offseason.
Anyone who considered Alexander Radulov a risky offseason acquisition ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Montreal inked the 30-year-old Russian winger to a one-year $5.75 million deal back in July, shortly after trading All-Star Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators. In return for the flashy defenseman, Montreal received veteran blue liner Shea Weber.
If the P.K. Subban trade caused a rucous, the signing of a player known largely for his behavioral problems didn’t help quell the madness that was Montreal in the post-P.K. era.
If it wasn’t for Weber, Radulov may never have been signed by Montreal. In fact, it was Weber who convinced Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin to take a chance on the Russian superstar. The two played together in Nashville during Radulov’s more controversial years in the NHL, but Weber vouched for his old teammate.
LET’s call it a maturity problem
Until recently, Radulov was defined by the time he spent in Nashville. For better or worse, most of the League had written off the notoriously immature winger.
Drafted in the first round (15th overall) by the Predators in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Russian phenom had a hard time fitting in in Nashville. Branded a cancer in the dressing room, Radulov left the club after the 2007-08 season. He went on to win the Continental Cup in the KHL. He would return to the Predators once more during the latter half of the 2011-12 season, making a playoff run with the Preds.
And that’s when Curfew-Gate went down.
After missing curfew during the playoffs and being suspended by the club for the second time in his NHL career, Radulov took his talents to Russia for good. Or so you might have thought.
It’s here that I’d like to mention that while playing in Russia, Radulov won the Continental Cup and the Golden Stick Award (MVP) four times. While there, he matured quite a bit.
Now 30 years old, a full five years removed from his last NHL contract, Radulov is enjoying his third time around in the League.
Since signing with Montreal as a free agent in the summer, Radulov has easily been the Habs’ most consistent player. More than anything he has brought new life into the Montreal dressing room. He elevates the play of those around him and quite frankly, everybody (Radu)loves him.
ON THE SCORE SHEET
With 37 points on the season, he trails only Max Pacioretty for the team lead. Let’s break down these points.
First of all, 15 of Radulov’s 37 points have come on the power play. His versatility as a player makes him dangerous anywhere on the ice and head coach Michel Therrien has taken full advantage of this.
Most of the time you can catch him on the first or second power play unit, holding down the right side. The Habs have also found success with Radulov on the point, paired with none other than his former Predators teammate Shea Weber.
Radulov’s 15 power play points, second best on the team, are a big part of Montreal’s special teams success thus far. The Habs are third in the League when on the man advantage with a 23.3 PP percentage.
Secondly, the lion’s share of Radulov’s points have been assists (25).
The man is a consummate play-maker, renowned for his puck handling ability. In an interview earlier this season with Pierre LeBrun, captain Max Pacioretty spoke of the lessons he’s learnt from Radulov, saying:
Radulov has really taught me the importance of holding on to the puck, not only to create time and space for yourself, but to make it hard on the opposition . . . He’s helped me out as a leader as well. He brings a lot to this team, both on and off the ice . . . He’s definitely a leader on this team as well.
Radulov and Pacioretty now play on the top line together. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that Radulov has assisted seven of Pacioretty’s 21 goals this season.
Lastly, the Canadiens have gone 20-2-2 this season when Radulov records a point.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 25, 2017
Alexander Radulov’s performance this year speaks for itself. A stat line like the one above is hard to explain. What Radulov brings to the Montreal Canadiens is an intangible product, a will to win.
Add to this the fact that he’s just plain fun to watch and what you’re left with is the single biggest All-Star snub that nobody seems to be talking about.
“From Our Haus to Yours”