Back in May, the Montreal Canadiens agreed to terms with defenceman Alexander Romanov on a three-year, entry-level contract. On Monday, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced they had reached a tentative agreement on a Return to Play plan along with a memorandum of understanding that adds four years to the collective bargaining agreement that will be extended through the 2025-26 season. We now know that players that signed after the season was halted on March 12th will not be allowed to play when the league resumes action. That will affect a few organizations that thought they were going to get help from certain players. The Minnesota Wild can’t count on Kirill Kaprizov for the tournament, same for the New York Islanders with goaltender Ilya Sorokin and the Montreal Canadiens with Alexander Romanov.
However, those three teams will still have the opportunity to sign these players for the 2019-20 season. Although they won’t be allowed to play in the 2019-20 tournament, they can burn a year off their entry-level contract by signing now and be available to play in the 2020-21 season.
There is no doubt that Alexander Romanov would want to do that since it will allow him to sign a more lucrative contract sooner than he would’ve in regular circumstances. We’ll take a look at why it’s also in the best interest of the Habs to burn a year off Alexander Romanov’s entry-level deal.
Habs Should Burn a Year off Alexander Romanov’s Entry-Level Deal
Making Sure He Comes to North America
Russian players often slip in the draft because of “The Russian Factor.” A term used frequently when a team isn’t sure that they want to draft a Russian player, fearing that they’ll never want to play for the team. Sometimes, these players won’t come to North America as they can play in their home country in front of their friends and family and still make good money. Romanov was willing to come and play for the Canadiens in the tournament but since it’s not possible he could change his mind.
The Habs need to make sure that Alexander Romanov will be in their opening night lineup for the 2020-21 season. Montreal can’t afford to not have Romanov in their lineup to begin next season. The left side of the defence in Montreal is looking very weak at the moment and it would take a major move from Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to completely fix it this offseason. Having Romanov in the lineup won’t completely fix the defence, but it would help a lot.
Also, The KHL hopes to start the 2020-21 season on September 2nd, 2020. Romanov seems to want to come to North America, but he might be tempted to go back to Russia for another season since he will only be able to play for the Habs at the start of the 2020-21 season which could be as late as December or January. If Bergevin offers to burn a year off his entry-level deal, Romanov could very well sign and wait in order to play for the Habs as soon as next season.
His Next Deal Could Be Cheaper
A lot of people will say that Bergevin shouldn’t burn a year off his contract because then the Montreal Canadiens would lose one season of potentially having a great defenceman on an entry-level contract. Here’s why it makes sense for Bergevin to do it.
Alexander Romanov will have to play two seasons instead of three with the Habs before becoming a restricted free agent and having to sign his next contract. We know that usually, defencemen take a longer time to develop than forwards. One season means a lot in terms of developing a young defenceman like Romanov. Therefore, Romanov is less likely to have reached his full potential after two seasons with the Canadiens. The Habs could take advantage of that and sign him to a long term deal before he’s in his prime and, potentially, save money. That deal could look very good in hindsight if it were to happen.
He Might Be Able to Train With the Canadiens
It is still unclear as to whether or not Romanov could participate in the Habs training camp if he signs for the 2019-20 season. If that’s the case, he could be one of the 31 players the Canadiens bring to their hub city. In that case, it would be totally worth it for the Habs to burn a year off his entry-level deal. Even though he won’t play an actual game, he could learn so much through practicing with the team. He could get advice from veterans and start learning the Habs system. That would be a great experience for the young Russian defenceman.
Some people might think that it’ll be a waste of a limited place in the bubble but in the long run, it is absolutely worth it. We’ll have to wait until the league confirms that the Montreal Canadiens could do this but if they can, Bergevin would definitely have to do it.
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