The Canadiens’ training camp has been dramatically shortened this year, lasting for only 10 days all told.
All of which means that the Habs’ young players will not really be able to show their best and impress their coaches on their way to perhaps making the big team out of camp. They will instead have to do the best they can in the limited opportunities that they get, be patient, and try to levy their good play againt an eventual call -up from the Taxi Squad and into Montreal’s main lineup.
However, despite these strenuous time constraints, Alexander Romanov managed to put out a great performance on the ice and in the training room, earning the praise of his teammates and his coaches all-around.
Romanov is extremely talented, well-rounded and very intelligent on the rink, you just can’t miss it. Given his many qualities, he could perhaps even become a true #1 defenseman for the Canadiens if he reaches his full potential. But, of all the wonderful attributes the young player displayed, it is his maturity, his passion for hockey and his relentless work ethic that stand out the most.
As such, Romanov is not only the first one to step on the ice when pratice comes, but also the last to leave when it is done. And outside of the arena, he decompresses and relaxes as he sees fit, by training even more.
Let us just say that, given his drive and determination, combined with the prospect’s own tremendous gifts, Romanov’s future as a defenseman in the NHL are should be a pretty bright one, to say the least.
Romanov, the QB of the second powerplay unit in his rookie year?
It is true that playing with four forwards and only one defenseman on the powerplay has become common practice in today’s NHL. But Claude Julien and the Canadiens’ coaching staff seem a bit wary of employing such a system ever since the utter failure that was the »Drouin experiment » on the blueline algonside Shea Weber, and the dismal powerplay efficiency of 2018-2019 (less than 14%).
That said, with 2021 now but a scant few days ahead, the coaches seem to have changed their minds, at least as far as the second powerplay unit is concerned. As a result, Romanov and Mete alternately manned the point during practices with the second PP unit, in an »umbrella » scheme, with one defenseman at the blueline and two shooting options on the boards to go alongside net-front forwards.
Even if Romanov, Mete, and perhaps even Kulak, will be involved in a rotation regarding second powerplay duties, logic dictates that Romanov should still get the lion’s share of the workload.
Not only is he just a plain better thinker of the game and passer compared to Kulak, but he also owns a much more dangerous arsenal of shots than Victor Mete. And so, opposing players will need to respect his shooting options much more than they do with Mete, which means they will need to be less aggressive hounding the puck carrier. That change in paradigm leads to better passsing options for Romanov and help make the rookie defenseman more unpredictable with the puck on his stick, and therefore more efficient manning the point on the powerplay than either of Kulak or Mete.
An opportunity for Alexander Romanov to prove himself
No matter if Romanov ends up benefiting from substantial powerplay time, or not, suffice to say he will have ample time and opportunities to have an impact and gain experience on Montreal’s third pairing to start the season. If he plays really well, who knows, he could end up playing alongside Shea Weber on the team’s first pair.
With added muscle since 2018 (he now measures up at 6’0 and 208 pounds by Montreal Canadiens official physical check results) and the young defenseman’s great inherent physical strength, the next sequence could be a good representation of Alexander Romanov’s play for the Habs in the NHL.
Moreover, if the young prospect continues progressing well, manages to keep his passion and love for the game intact in the years to come, and doesn’t get injured, he will have a tremendous career in the National Hockey League.