Alexander Romanov’s noticeable progression was one of the silver linings of the season for the Montreal Canadiens, and the young defenceman is ready for more.
Romanov felt that he had put in the work to grow into a top-4 defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens by the end of the season, and added that he would like to provide even more of an impact for the club moving forward. His development was certainly rocky to start, having gone through three different head coaches in less than a year, but Romanov’s perseverance and his determination to improve have many believing he’s ready to take the next step in his career for the Montreal Canadiens.
When the 22-year-old blueliner took to the podium on Saturday afternoon during his pregame presser, he didn’t back down from stating that he felt he was ready to take the next step in his development. In fact, Romanov did it with a big smile and an aura of confidence that he seemed to have lost almost a year ago to the day. Romanov was a highly touted prospect for the Montreal Canadiens and made the roster out of camp as a rookie during the 2020-2021 season, but was made to watch most of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs from the sidelines.
At the start of the season, it looked like Romanov was in for more of the same, as former head coach Dominique Ducharme bounced him in and out of the lineup, and gave him sheltered minutes when he would actually dress the youngster. Romanov never once complained or sulked, and instead continued to be the first one to jump on the ice at practice, with an infectious smile.
WHY Alexander Romanov requires to fight every time he lays a perfectly legit hit blows my mind! pic.twitter.com/Eh9F0zGHOC
— JeSuisCH🔟RIPGuyLafleur (@HabsHappy) January 14, 2022
Romanov continued to put the work in, despite the team’s disappointing season and steadily began to improve. He credits a lot of his progress to Montreal Canadiens’ assistant coach Luke Richardson, who took a lot of time throughout the season to talk and work with Romanov to improve his game.
“He’s an awesome guy,” said Romanov. “He’s a professional, and I love working with him, on or off the ice. He’s always had time for me.”
Romanov’s work with Richardson led to a steady improvement in the young defender’s game, as he continued to take on extra responsibility throughout the season, especially after the Canadiens tarded Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers. From the Trade Deadline to the end of the season, Romanov was consistently the most used defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens, and his advanced numbers show that he thrived in that role; despite the club’s notable defensive woes.
His continued improvement and more consistent play earned him praise across the board, from coaching staff to fans to media members. His improvement was so notable that he was awarded the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy, a trophy awarded annually to the member of the Montreal Canadiens who played a dominant role during the regular season, without earning any particular honour.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 30, 2022
Focused On Improving His Offensive Game
Although his defensive game has come along quite nicely for the Canadiens, being the most used defenseman at even strength and routinely used on the penalty kill, Romanov feels he needs to diversify his game. Romanov cited his transition and offensive game as being focal points for him to improve on this summer, as head coach Martin St. Louis continued to push the youngster to use his skating abilities to help the club on transition.
“I would like to improve my offensive game,” said Romanov on his goals for the summer. “This year, I learned how to play smarter. Keep my energy, try not to waste it needlessly.”
Romanov had shown an ability to run a powerplay in the past when he played for the Russian national team at the World Junior Championships in 2019 and 2020. In fact, Romanov holds the record, tied with Dimitri Orlov, for the most points from a Russian defenceman at the tournament, as he was used in every situation for the Russians during those tournaments.
Romanov simply hasn’t had the opportunity to express himself offensively at the professional level, be it in the KHL for CSKA or in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens. Romanov has the aptitudes to be a general at the top of the powerplay, as his skating, passing and puck recuperation are well suited for a seamlessly flowing powerplay predicated on speed of execution and possession. Romanov wants to make sure he’s ready next year when the opportunity presents itself; as he sees it as the next major challenge in his career moving forward.
“I’m going to practice this summer to improve my skills with the puck,” said Romanov. “I will be watching videos to understand how to develop that.”
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 27, 2018
A Future Fixture for the Montreal Canadiens
If Romanov can refine his natural talents as a top skater and a strong puck possession player, it would go a long way in cementing his standing with the club for years to come, which would be music to the ears of the 22-year-old rearguard.
“I just love Montreal,” said Romanov. “That’s why I want to stay here as long as I can.”
The Canadiens defenceman continues to wow fans with his intensity, emotion and perseverance; and, if he can continue to improve his game and add an offensive element to boot, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a figurehead of Montreal’S defence for years to come.
— Hockey Night Punjabi (@HkyNightPunjabi) March 13, 2022