Alexander Romanov of the Canadiens: same story, different continent

The date was May 8, 2020. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced that the team’s 2018 second-round pick, 38th overall, had been signed for an entry contract of range of three years. The plan was to get the Russian defenseman to North America as soon as possible, with the hope of having him play a few weeks later in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Here is Alexander Romanov with one of his first quotes before signing his contract with the NHL:

“It’s my dream to play in the NHL. It’s my dream to play in Montreal. This is my favorite dream, I am so excited. I am so happy to come to Montreal and come to Canada. I am so happy.”
Alexander Romanov in an interview with NHL.com

The young man’s energy and willingness to play hockey was evident from day one, as the dynamic and physical defenseman was often the first to jump on the ice and the last in training. He worked harder than anyone in training, which impressed his teammates and coaches from the start. Bergevin even burned a year off his entry-level contract to train with the team in the 2020 bubble and get used to both the NHL’s level of play and the Canadiens system.

A review of his days in Russia

When Romanov first joined the Habs, he had just completed a season with CSKA Moscow from the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), a team and league known for its reluctance to allow quality ice time for young players. with career prospects in the NHL, or abroad in general. As a result, from 2018 to 2020, Romanov averaged just 12 minutes of ice time per night during the KHL season and less than seven minutes in the playoffs. It was not for lack of talent, as the Russian defender was arguably their second best defender after Nikita Nesterov at the time.

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