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303 QUICK POLL: Would you welcome Radulov back?

I know, I know. We got through this every summer.

Like clock work, Nashville Predators fans hear the same thing every off-season: Will defected forward Alexander Radulov return to Music City? This year, more than others, it actually seems like a legit conversation considering NHL writers are getting involved.

Per usual, the speculation started in Nashville. When the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper asked General Manager David Poile about the prospect of Radulov returning, Poile’s response was “What Paul (Fenton, Assistant General Manager) said to him today was very simply, ‘You made lots of money. Is money an issue? You’re the leading scorer in the league, your team won a championship. You think you’re one of the best players in the world. Are you going to come over to the best league and show that? Or are you going to stay in a secondary league.”

Radulov is, quite literally, the piece this team is missing. Well, okay, the type of player he is is. The Preds have never had a scoring left winger, let alone a “sniper.” They almost had one in the 21-year old Radulov as he was right on the cusp of realizing his potental in the National Hockey League. But then he jumped ship despite one year left on his NHL contract to go play hockey in his home country of Russia in 2008. Not only did he defect, he did it after the NHL Draft and after free agency had already started so it left his team high and dry and without a Plan B.

He’s now 24 years old and holds the KHL record for points in a season (80), he’s the league’s all-time assist leader (125), he’s won a Gagarin Cup and he’s even earned league MVP honors. So while he’s gotten even better since he went across the pond, you have to remember that he single-handedly put this organization behind the eight ball for the past few years. Scoring wingers don’t grow on trees. Especially ones who play “Predator hockey.” But here was Radulov, a scary-talented left wing who finally was going to fill the biggest need of the franchise who had grown up in the Nashville organization and was learning how to play “Predator hockey.” But his departure made a lot of his teammates (if not all, off the record) absolutlely irate. His “bailing on his team” was highly frowned upon and it prompted some (former team captain Jason Arnott, for one) to say “it’d be tough” if he ever returned.

Suppose he were to come back next season, the eight players Radulov would have to face in the locker room that donned a Predators sweater when he turned his back on them are as follows:
* JP Dumont (although there are rumors that he’ll be bought out this summer)
* Martin Erat
* Kevin Klein
* David Legwand
* Jerred Smithson
* Ryan Suter
* Jordin Tootoo
* Shea Weber

NOTE: I purposely left goaltender Pekka Rinne off the list because he only appeared in a single game in which Radulov played.

Which begs the question: considering he’s exactly what the Predators need, but also considering how he left the organization high and dry, would you welcome back Alexander Radulov?

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