Forward Alexander Radulov signed a five-year, $31.25 million contract with the Dallas Stars on Monday.
Radulov, who turns 31 on July 5, became an unrestricted free agent Saturday and decided between the Stars and Montreal Canadiens. He said Montreal made a similar offer after he agreed to terms with Dallas but wasn’t going to go back on the contract, which has an average annual value of $6.25 million.
“When I put everything on the table and I saw what I have, it was easy decision to go to Dallas,” Radulov said. “With Montreal, I don’t think we even got that close, in my opinion.
“The money was basically at the same level. For me it was more the term because I really wanted five years at least on my deal and I want to play and not worry about it. Just play hard and try to win.”
Stars captain Jamie Benn was a key part of the sales pitch when he called and spoke to Radulov for about 10 minutes about the city and the Stars.
“He called me like three days ago right when we started talking,” Radulov said. “He told me about the team, about the guys, about the city. And I really liked it and I’m really thankful for the Dallas organization to give me a chance to play with a great player.”
Radulov also spoke with Stars coach Ken Hitchcock and a friend who played for Hitchcock with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The additions of goalie Ben Bishop, defenseman Marc Methot and center Martin Hanzal were signs to Radulov that Dallas is headed in the right direction.
“No doubt that was huge,” Radulov said. “You always want to play on the teams that have a chance to win, and I really saw that in Dallas. Yes, they had couple [of] tough years in the past … but when you look [at the offseason] you see that the team really wants to build and win.”
While Radulov did his research, the Stars did their due diligence on Radulov, who returned to the NHL last season after spending the previous four with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.
“We watched him perform in Montreal, played very well, he’s been one of the top players in the world, it’s no secret,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “Then we made some calls on him, we know a lot of people that played with him and that everybody raved about him, about his personality. And then when I had a chance to talk to him, once we hit free agency, I was so impressed.”
Radulov had 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) in 76 games with Montreal last season, finishing second in points behind forward Max Pacioretty (67). Radulov led the Canadiens with seven points (two goals, five assists) in six games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Selected by the Nashville Predators with the No. 15 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Radulov had 95 points (44 goals, 51 assists) in two seasons with Nashville from 2006-08 before playing four seasons for Salavat Yulayev Ufa of the KHL. He returned to the Predators in 2011-12 for nine regular-season games and the playoffs.