SUN Hockey Pool

NHL Notes: Poile anticipates boost from Radulov

Russia's Alexander Radulov (L) and Ilya Kovalchuk celebrate a second goal against Canada during...

Russia's Alexander Radulov (L) and Ilya Kovalchuk celebrate a second goal against Canada during their quarter-final match at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava May 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

The Nashville Predators have patched up their differences with Alexander Radulov, who was AWOL for four years, and expect to have the winger in the lineup during the next few days.

"Adding the best player in the world not currently in the National Hockey League can only help the Nashville Predators," general manager David Poile said Wednesday. "We always believed he would return."

Radulov, 25, spent the past four seasons with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL after bolting the Predators two-thirds of the way through his three-year entry-level contract. He will finish up that contract this season and will become a restricted free agent July 1.

Poile said his goal is to have "this relationship last longer than these last nine games and the playoffs."

Radulov had 26 goals and 32 assists in 2007-08, his second season with Nashville.

It is expected he will return to the lineup Thursday in Pittsburgh or Saturday at home to Winnipeg.

NABOKOV OK WITH ISLES

The New York Islanders and goalie Evgeni Nabokov agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract for 2012-13.

"I'm thrilled to commit to this team for next season," said Nabokov, who wasn't so thrilled Jan. 22, 2011 when the Islanders claimed him off waivers, preventing him from joining the Detroit Red Wings for a Stanley Cup run.

The Wings had signed him as a free agent the previous day but Nabokov had to clear waivers before he could join the Detroit roster. He refused to report to the Isles until the following October.

Nabokov, 36, has a 17-18-3 record and a 2.56 goals-against average with the Isles this season.

BACKSTROM GETTING BACK?

Coach Dale Hunter hinted Wednesday that forward Nicklas Backstrom could be back in time for the playoffs, should the Washington Capitals qualify.

Backstrom hasn't played since Jan. 3 when he suffered a concussion on an elbow from Rene Bourque.

"He's going to do more and more (in rehab)," Hunter told the Washington Post. "You'll see, next week he's going to do more (perhaps including practising with his teammates)."

Backstrom, 24, has 13 goals and 29 assists in 38 games this season.

SURGERY FOR FLYER

Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Andrej Meszaros will be sidelined six to eight weeks after surgery Wednesday to remove a small disc fragment from his lower back.

The fragment was impinging on a nerve root, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. Holmgren said the surgery was successful and that the 26-year-old defenceman would begin rehab in one week.

Meszaros, who has missed the past 10 games because of the injury, has seven goals and 18 assists in 62 games this season.

BRIEFLY

Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom aims to return to action Saturday after missing 11 games with a bruised right ankle. "It still hurts turning and pivoting, when I put pressure on that point, but that sharp pain is not there like it was a week ago," Lidstrom said Wednesday ... The Carolina Hurricanes have activated defenceman Joni Pitkanen from injured reserve. Pitkanen had knee surgery Jan. 3 and missed the past 44 games.


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