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Report: Term the big sticking point between Radulov, Canadiens

Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 04: Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the NHL game against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on February 4, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Washington Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

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It’s easy to forget all the years Alexander Radulov spent overseas and to assume that he’s in the beginning of his prime. The reality is that he’s already 30, making a long-term deal considerably riskier for the Montreal Canadiens.

During Saturday’s edition of Sportsnet’s Headlines, Nick Kypreos reported that Radulov is looking for a six-year deal from Montreal. Failing that, the Habs might need to pay up big for a shorter deal; Kypreos puts a potential compromise at a costly $21 million over three years.

Elliotte Friedman said it well during that segment: Radulov would likely be a top target if he hit the free agent market. So, should Montreal pay up?

Canadiens’ cap questions

Looking at the Canadiens’ roster on Cap Friendly, it’s clear that there’s a select group of players - particularly forwards - who have lengthy deals. And if they do, they’re generally locked up for bargains.

Max Pacioretty’s $4.5 million bargain runs through 2018-19. Brendan Gallagher’s at $3.75 million through 2020-21. Andrew Shaw’s value is more up to debate, but either way, it’s similar to Gallagher’s but ends after 2021-22.

With the lengthier deals generally going to cheaper scorers, the highest cap hit among forwards right now is Tomas Plekanec, whose $6 million mark slightly edges Radulov’s current $5.75 million hit. If Montreal wants to sign Radulov for a shorter deal, Kypreos indicates it would be similar to Plekanec’s deal ... just more expensive.

The biggest deals on the books right now are actually for defense (Shea Weber at almost $8 million through 2025-26) and Jeff Petry ($5.5 million through 2020-21). Overall, the Canadiens have a fairly clean slate, all things considered.

How big a part of their future is Radulov, really?

On one hand, some might see a relatively clean cap situation beyond that Weber deal and wonder if that “surplus” could go to a Radulov deal.

Of course, a longer Radulov deal would possibly put Montreal in a bind when they need to re-sign Carey Price after 2017-18 and pay Pacioretty closer to market value once his deal expires. Not to mention Alex Galchenyuk’s pending RFA status after this season.

That’s the downside to Radulov being such a smash hit for Montreal. Now Marc Bergevin must determine if he’s a core member or if it’s worth paying a premium to give him something a bit more mid-term.

It’s not the worst problem to have, yet it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. It also explains why Radulov doesn’t have a deal just yet.