Colorado Avalanche: Alexander Radulov a Bad Fit

Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy on his bench in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy on his bench in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche would do well to avoid the siren song of signing talented, but troubled winger Alexander Radulov.

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The Colorado Avalanche are reported to be one of the teams in the running for acquiring winger Alexander Radulov.

Russian winger Alexander Radulov is one of those polarizing players — in that he’s created quite a legend for himself. He is a tremendous goal scorer with hands as soft as kid gloves and a top-notch compete level.

Radulov has also had character problems. He was drafted by the Nashville Predators and played for two seasons there before breaking his contract to return to Russia in 2008. He came back to the NHL in 2012 and played a few games with Nashville again before breaking team rules — partying — and thus getting suspended a game. He returned to Russia soon thereafter.

Recently, Sports-Express writer Igor Eronko announced that Radulov intends to return to the NHL for the 2016-17 season:

Colorado Avalanche Connection

Alexander Radulov played for Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy when the latter was still leading the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. In two seasons with the Remparts, Radulov scored 93 goals and earned 134 assists in 127 regular season games. He also earned 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 36 playoff games.

So, as with Mikhail Griogrenko, there’s the Patrick Roy connection.

Radulov also has a Semyon Varlamov connection. In fact, it was the Avalanche’s goalie who started the rumor mill that Radulov was Colorado-bound:

According to Sports Net, Varlamov added that the team is “waiting for Radulov” and that the winger will “be one of the leaders there.” The two earned a silver medal together in 2006 World Junior Championships.

Related Story: Varly Sparks Radulov Rumors

Alexander Radulov’s Skill

There’s no question that Alexander Radulov is a tremendously skilled winger — in fact, that’s how Elite Prospects describes him:

"“A tremendously skilled winger, Radulov is a treat to watch. He has excellent puck control and playmaking ability, and can rip hard wrist shots in full flight. A true game-breaking forward. “"

Now, if we had just his QMJHL and KHL statistics to judge by, that wouldn’t be enough. Both leagues are renowned for fomenting high scoring.

However, Radulov backed that up in the NHL. In his two years with the Predators the first time around, Radulov scored 44 goals and 51 assists (96 points) in 145 games. He got five goals and three assists in 10 playoff games. Those were freshman and sophomore numbers.

Radulov returned for nine regular season games at three goals and four assists. In eight playoff games he got one goal and five assists (2011-2012).

Here’s Radulov in action:

Radulov Misfit for the Avalanche

Alexander Radulov’s tremendous scoring skill makes Colorado Avalanche fans drool at the prospect of having him on the team. It seems weird to say that a team doesn’t need that kind of scorer, but the truth is that he doesn’t fit the Colorado Avalanche style of play.

The Colorado Avalanche are built to score on the rush. The team is moving towards players who are speedy and gritty. The front offices want players who play all 200 feet of the ice and who display outstanding leadership and work ethic.

Despite Semyon Varlov’s conviction that Radulov would be a leader on the team, the truth is he barely meets the minimum requirements. Leaving aside the character issues for a moment — thought we will return to them — Radulov is not known for being particularly speedy. In fact, early on his skating was an area of weakness. It has improved, but it’s not his strongest point.

What’s more, no one’s ever accused Radulov of being a physical or two-way player. Granted the Colorado Avalanche’s talent guys don’t always have to finish their checks and play with grit, but it’s definitely preferable. Plus, Colorado loves its players to block shots. It’s doubtful Radulov would be into that.

And here’s where we get to the character issue. Alexander Radulov has always done whatever he wants. He broke his contract with the Predators then went on to party-hardy during the playoffs when given another chance a few years later.

There was also this incident sometime during his career in the KHL:

I don’t the context for what happened, but does it matter? I wouldn’t want that kind of action anywhere near the Avalanche bench.

Some claim that he’s matured — he even has a child now. Well, he angered his Team Russia coaches by flying to the United States to talk NHL contracts rather than report for IIHF training camp. That was just last week.

The Colorado Avalanche already suffer from locker room problems. The team already has players who do whatever they want on the ice and maybe focus on the lifestyle more than the job sometimes. And after the drama that has surrounded Semyon Varlamov, we can hardly take his word for what constitutes leadership.

I think all the scoring in the world couldn’t make up for the havoc he’d wreck on an already delicate team psychology.

What’s more, Radulov wouldn’t come cheap. Radulov made $9.2 million in the KHL. That doesn’t just break the Matt Duchene structure of $6 million, it annihilates it.

Now, Radulov is 30 years old, and it’s highly unlikely any team will pay him that amount of money. However, it also tells you that his expectations are going to be high.

Next: Boudreau Not Right for Avs

You look at his scoring, and the thought of Radulov in burgundy and blue is so enticing. However, I just don’t see the Colorado Avalanche benefiting from his style of play long-term. And his character issues would be a disaster for a team already focusing on other young Russians’ lesser character issues (Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko) and a veteran Russian’s distraction issues.

Hopefully the Colorado Avalanche take a pass on Alexander Radulov.