The Montreal Canadiens only had one prospect represented at the 4 Nations U20 tournament in Perm, Russia this year. The participating national teams were the hosts Russia, Czech Republic, Finland and, Sweden. Russia won the mini-tournament with 6 points over 3 games (2 wins, 1 loss).
Alexander Romanov had 1 goal, 12 shots on goal with a +2 rating and 4 penalty minutes through 3 games. He also logged heavy minutes as on the top pairing playing both on the powerplay and penalty kill.
Now we’ll go through some clips of Romanov’s play during this tournament.
In the clip below, Romanov shows a wide variety of his tools from passing, skating, offensive awareness, and physicality.
Right off the hop Romanov moves the puck quickly with good accuracy. As he receives the puck back from his defense partner he quickly pivots, head up and finds his open teammate at center ice to start the breakout.
At 0:15 Romanov seals off the boards and quickly fires it on the net. This play ends up being okay but more often than not it’s a low danger scoring chance especially with no net-front presence. The preferable option here would have been a pass to his teammate (#8) at the top of the circle which may have created a potential 2-on-1 situation down low.
Throughout this clip you will also notice Romanov is always moving his feet, backpedaling and then turning to generate speed going forward. At 0:24 he starts to accelerate as he recognizes a potential turn over and moves up to open space. As he skates into the offensive zone creating a passing lane for his teammates he drifts off to the far sideboards.
At 0:33 he receives a pass at the hash marks, then quickly fires a cross-seam pass to his open teammate in front of the net. As the play moves up you can tell Romanov is a little frustrated that his teammate couldn’t convert on that scoring chance.
At 0:38 once again as he’s retreating he sees another turnover, jumps up in the offensive zone and drifts out to the far boards where he ends up retrieving an errant pass to keep the play moving. As he releases the pass to the corner he shows off great balance and strength to execute a well-timed reverse hit on the opposing defender.
On this next clip, you’ll notice the powerful first couple of steps and great leg extension in Romanov’s skating stride.
At 0:05 his cross-overs generate good acceleration and speed as he cuts around the defender and drives the net for a good scoring opportunity. What I also like about this play is Romanov quickly recognizes the open ice and takes it with no hesitation.
In this next sequence Romanov does really well as he pinches in and knocks the loose puck forward to keep the offensive play going which almost leads to a good scoring chance.
Later in the shift at 0:08 he does really well to hold off pressure to create time for his forwards to complete a line change. Romanov displays some good footwork here as he quickly turns and makes a clean breakout out pass to center ice.
In this next clip, Romanov shows off his penalty-killing prowess with a good active stick and once again his explosive skating stride.
Right at the beginning of this clip, Romanov pushes out in a position to block a shot but quickly adjusts his stick as he reads his opponents play to nullify the pass. Later in the shift at 0:04 Romanov, again, reads the play and picks off the pass, then explodes through the netural zone before cutting to the high slot and fires a wrist shot on net. One might say that he could have driven wide or used the defender as a screen to give himself a greater scoring opportunity. But looking back on that play he was nearing the end of his shift and getting a face-off in the offensive zone on a penalty kill is a much safer play.
In this last clip, we get a great look at Romanov’s ability to separate the oncoming forward from the puck and then making good reads to quickly transition the puck from defense to offense.
Romanov starts off with disrupting the puck carrier with a stick check then engages physically to separate him from the puck. At 0:06 Romanov reads the play and reacts with great effectiveness as he picks up the loose puck and moves it up with a quick short pass. At 0:11 Romanov jumps up into the play streaking down the middle of the ice and receives a great pass from his winger. His quick shot on the net leads to a rebound and an eventual goal that was later deemed no goal.
At 0:14 Romanov has multiple options, 1. slide a pass up to his teammate (#27), 2. make a drop pass to his teammate (#14), 3. shoot on net, or, 4. pass to the far winger (#8) which is probably the high-risk play. What I would have liked to see here is option 1. which most likely have resulted in a tap in goal for his teammate #8 after receiving a cross-crease pass from #27. Anyways the play ended up in a goal but it’s unfortunate they called it back due to it going in off a skate.
Expect Romanov to be the go-to number one defenceman at this year’s World Junior Championship for team Russia.
The KHL regular season kicks off tomorrow with Romanov and CSKA Moscow facing Avangard Omsk.