Alex Radulov wants to stay with Canadiens, willing to avoid UFA market

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Sean Leahy
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Montreal Canadiens’ Alexander Radulov laughs as he talks with reporters in Brossard, Que., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Canadiens were eliminated by the New York Rangers in first round of NHL playoffs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Montreal Canadiens’ Alexander Radulov laughs as he talks with reporters in Brossard, Que., Monday, April 24, 2017. The Canadiens were eliminated by the New York Rangers in first round of NHL playoffs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

When Alexander Radulov signs his next NHL contract, the one thing for certain is that it won’t be another one-year deal.

The Montreal Canadiens forward returned to the NHL last summer, inking a $5.75 million contract for this season after spending most of the last eight years playing in the KHL. But now that Radulov’s season is over he’s set to hit the unrestricted free agent market on July 1.

“We understand each other,” Radulov said of his relationship with general manager Marc Bergevin during Canadiens locker clean out day on Monday. “I’m really thankful [to] Marc [for bringing] me here and [giving] me that opportunity to be back in the NHL and play in the best league. I like Montreal. I like it a lot. … We have to take it step by step.”

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In 76 regular season games, Radulov was second on the team in scoring with 18 goals and 54 points. In the postseason, he led Montreal with two goals and seven points. His impact was felt throughout their first-round series with the New York Rangers as he helped set up the tying goal late in Game 2 and later netted the overtime winner. Radulov followed that up in Game 3 pulling out the Kent Nilsson/Peter Forsberg highlight-reel move on Henrik Lundqvist.

The 30-year-old Radulov answered many questions about his maturity and on-ice ability in his first season back. He was productive and a valuable asset to the Canadiens and in return, and as he fell in love with the city and playing in the atmosphere of Bell Centre, the fans embraced him.

He even had a catchy tune written in his honor.

There wasn’t much contract talk during his exit meeting with Bergevin, and that’s fine. It’s clear Radulov’s preference is to remain with the Canadiens as long as both sides can agree on a multi-year term and that the dollars fit right with the team’s cap picture. There was talk last month that he was seeking an eight-year deal, but that was quickly shot down.

Montreal’s undoing versus the Rangers was their lack offense. Radulov was able to provide that as best as he could, so bringing him back into the fold would be a good first step in addressing an issue moving forward.

And Radulov, who’s sitting out the World Championship due to his contract status, isn’t pining to hit the market on July 1. If the deal is right, he’s not going to wait for other offers.

“I don’t think you have to wait for first of July,” Radulov said. “You can just take that offer because if it’s everything good, why would you go and look for something better? There’s no point.”

Stick-tap Amanda Stein for the audio

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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