Nashville has its own Alexander the great

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

The way Scott Hartnell sees it, his Nashville Predators teammate Alexander Radulov has a key trait found in those other heralded young Russian up-and-comers.

Like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, Radulov has amazing talent and skill but Hartnell is just as impressed with the rookie's zest for the game.

Radulov approaches every aspect of hockey with the same unbridled enthusiasm Ovechkin and Malkin display.

"He's a little hyper at times but he's a young, excited kid happy to be here," Hartnell said after yesterday's morning skate at the 'Dome. "He's always around the rink with a smile on his face. He's a fun guy to be around."

It's a far cry from the stereotypical dour Russians commonly seen in the NHL in years past.

"That's how my parents taught me. I'm just excited," Radulov said. "Life is all about being happy and enjoying the time you live. You play hockey. I don't understand when you can be mad or not excited to come to the rink all the time.

"I'm excited about everything with hockey. I've always been like this, since I was a little kid."

At 20, some would say the right winger is still a kid. However, the player Nashville drafted 15th overall in the 2004 draft has more than just an infectious attitude.

He has serious skill.

In only his second NHL game Thursday, a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, he scored his first NHL goal, with his first shot on goal. Prior to being summoned from the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, he potted three goals and four assists in three games.

Oh yeah, he also finished his junior career with an incredible 152 points (61-91-152) in only 62 regular season games with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, which included an amazing 50-game point streak -- the second longest in league history behind the 62-game spree Mario Lemieux put together -- en route to being named league MVP.

There are plenty of eyes watching his performance, something he has no problem with.

"I don't feel that pressure at all, people waiting for me to be a good player. I think I can be that," he said with confidence. "I just need to work hard and do my best, and every day try to be better and better.

"I did well last year in junior and people saw that ... but I want to prove I can be a good player here."

Still, the belief is prevalent among the Predators Radulov will have plenty of success in his pro game.

"What you do in the past is one thing but you've got to come up and prove to everyone you are the real deal. That's what he has to do but he's got me won over," said defenceman Ryan Suter. "He's a good player. He's been really impressive."


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