Find­ing a home

Stars sign Radulov to rich­est free agent deal of off-sea­son

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY STEPHEN WHYNO

Even though Alexan­der Radulov took 48 hours into NHL free agency to find a home, it was very much worth the wait.

Radulov on Mon­day be­came the rich­est player in a re­strained mar­ket by sign­ing a $31.25 mil­lion, five-year deal with the Dal­las Stars. The 30-year-old Rus­sian winger left the Cana­di­ens for a con­tract that’s worth al­most $5 mil­lion more than Kevin Shat­tenkirk’s with the New York Rangers and ties Karl Alzner’s with Mon­treal for the long­est signed by an un­re­stricted free agent this off­sea­son.

“I re­ally want five years at least on my deal,” said Radulov, who will count $6.25 mil­lion against the salary cap through 2021-22. “I wanted to play and not worry about it, just play hard and not worry about it . ... I got a longterm deal and I am happy.”

Radulov and Ales Hem­sky traded places on Day 3 of free agency as the 33-year-old winger signed a $1 mil­lion, oneyear deal with Mon­treal. The Cana­di­ens made a last-ditch at­tempt to match the Stars’ of­fer to Radulov, who de­cided not to re­nege on his ver­bal agree­ment.

“I said I al­ready agreed with Dal­las,” Radulov said. “I said it wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be right. If you take it you take it, there’s no way back, right?”

Radulov wanted to go back to the Cana­di­ens, and fran­chise goal­tender Carey Price said Sun­day he’d hate to lose the Rus­sian winger or vet­eran de­fence­man An­drei Markov.

Radulov’s de­par­ture makes it pos­si­ble that Markov re-signs with Mon­treal, which has $15 mil­lion in cap space and must still work out a new con­tract for re­stricted free agent for­ward Alex Galchenyuk.

The Stars com­pleted their off­sea­son shop­ping list by get­ting Radulov, who was con­sid­ered the top free agent for­ward avail­able. They pre­vi­ously got a goal­tender in Ben Bishop, de­fence­man via trade in Marc Methot and cen­tre in Martin Han­zal, though Radulov has the kind of tal­ent that doesn’t come cheap.

“We’re adding an elite player to our lineup,” Dal­las gen­eral man­ager Jim Nill said. “He’s high-end skill. You’re al­ways look­ing to add skill to your lineup, and he adds that. He’s a strong skater . ... He’s a strong man down low, can hold on to the puck, can make plays.”

Hem­sky could be a bar­gain move for the Cana­di­ens as they at­tempt to re­place Radulov’s pro­duc­tion of 18 goals and 36 as­sists. Hem­sky missed a ma­jor­ity of last sea­son af­ter in­jur­ing his hip at the World Cup of Hockey and un­der­go­ing surgery , some­thing that con­trib­uted to the Stars miss­ing the play­offs.

“We’re go­ing to miss Ales, but un­for­tu­nately you have to make de­ci­sions in this game,” Nill said. “Mon­treal’s get­ting a very good player and get­ting a very good per­son. He’s go­ing to be a very good player for Mon­treal. He’s go­ing to add a lot of speed to the lineup.”

With the hockey world shift­ing down a gear from the ini­tial free agent frenzy, the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals made a depth move Mon­day amid their retooling process by sign­ing for­mer Devils winger De­vante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, two-way con­tract worth a league-min­i­mum $650,000. Bought out by New Jersey and now on his fourth team, the 25-year-old will be given the chance to earn a ros­ter spot.

“I think there’s some un­tapped po­ten­tial,” Cap­i­tals gen­eral man­ager Brian MacLel­lan said. “We see him as a project, and we might be able to turn him into a player that we can use on the NHL ros­ter.”

Detroit on Mon­day re-signed re­stricted free agent de­fence­man Xavier Ouel­let to a twoyear deal.

The Red Wings bol­stered their blue line Satur­day by sign­ing two-time Stan­ley Cup winner Trevor Da­ley to a $9.5 mil­lion, three-year con­tract.

AP PHOTO

In this April 1 file photo, Alexan­der Radulov cel­e­brates his over­time goal with the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens dur­ing the team’s NHL game against the Tampa Bay Light­ning in Tampa, Fla.

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