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  • Writer's pictureLe Bo

Alexander Romanov Signs with the Montreal Canadiens

I can’t say this is a shock to me.

To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this moment since the season paused.

Alexander Romanov, a second round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2018, has signed with the Bleu Blanc et Rouge.

Romanov has spent the last two years in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. He played in the World Junior Hockey Championships twice, once winning best defenseman and twice making the WJC All-Star Team. He is point-per-game at the World Juniors, but not as offensively inclined in the KHL. In the KHL, Alexander Romanov got 11 points in 86 games over two seasons with CSKA Moscow. One should treat those stats with some skepticism, because Romanov was used limitedly on a stacked CSKA Moscow team, and there is a belief that Moscow deliberately didn’t play him because they knew he was going to sign with the Habs, and so they gave more ice time to prospects that have a future with the team. Strategy-wise, that’s a good move for Moscow, but it also prevents us from seeing Romanov’s full potential in a top league. Therefore, we must turn to his performances at the World Juniors to assess him.

Extremely Impressive

After this year’s World Juniors, many columnists declared Romanov ready for the NHL. He will be very fun to watch, because he loves to lay those massive hip-checks, Alexei Emelin-style. His positioning is excellent, and his skating has been described as explosive. Romanov shows patience rarely seen in a young player, and rarely over-extends. When he does screw up, as we all inevitably do, his mobility allows him to correct most missteps. Romanov’s timing on defensive plays allows him to conserve energy, only battling opponents for the puck when the opponent is a threat to make a play. For example, he’ll lift the opponent’s stick when the opponent is getting ready for a point-shot, or he shoves attackers out of shooting lanes. This could be misconstrued as lazy, but defense is his main strength by all accounts, so he must be doing something right.

Many players his age are eager to make a quick pass on breakouts, but Romanov is an exception. He is more willing to hold on to the puck, attract opponents, and then find the smartest passing lane. He doesn’t force plays that aren’t there, something that is a huge quality in a young player.

Romanov’s defensive game may always be his strength, but his offensive instincts have improved dramatically throughout his development. At first, he was far too trigger-happy, firing puck after puck at the net from low percentage areas. Now, he is far more versatile offensively. He moves around with ease on the blue line, and finds lanes for teammates. He passes more, and his passes are sneaky and quick. When he does shoot, he does his best to skate into high-percentage areas closer to the net. However, this is an area that he could still improve on, because he takes too many low-percentage shots from the blue line. With no traffic in front, the only defenseman scoring on that shot is Shea Weber. I don’t want to make everyone too excited, because Romanov is not projected to be a point-accumulator at the NHL level. His greatest asset will always be his defense, rather like Josh Morrissey.

Where/When Will He Play?

First of all, he’s eligible to play the remainder of 2019-20, should that take place. That’s up to him and the Canadiens management. I’ll tell you what; it would give the fans something to look forward to if the Canadiens aren’t part of an extended playoff format.

In terms of where he would play, well, the AHL is expected to cancel its season today so he’s not playing in Laval this season. Next season would all depend on training camp, and if he plays, his performance this season. This is all speculation; we have no clue when the season will restart, if it will restart, and when next season will begin. All I can say is that from what I saw at the World Juniors, he’s ready for NHL action.

I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Go Habs Go.

Signed, Le Bo

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