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Romanov: 'I'm so happy to come to Montreal and to come to Canada'

Alexander Romanov is eager to prove his worth in the NHL as soon as possible

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - There was real joy in Alexander Romanov's voice on Friday morning when he spoke with reporters via conference call from his home in Moscow.

And with good reason after agreeing to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canadiens.

While the start date of the contract has yet to be determined because of the NHL pause, the 20-year-old Russian blueliner made it crystal clear that pursuing his career in Montreal immediately - and leaving the KHL ranks behind after two seasons - was a top priority.

"It's my dream to play in the NHL. It's my dream to play in Montreal. It's my favorite dream," affirmed Romanov, who was a second-round selection (38th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft. "I'm so excited. I'm so happy to come to Montreal and to come to Canada. I'm so happy."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The Canadiens have agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with defenseman Alexander Romanov.#GoHabsGohttps://t.co/w9T5fBu04l

Romanov registered 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists) in 86 career games with CSKA Moscow, amassing a plus-37 differential along the way. He also won a Gagarin Cup during his rookie campaign.

His work on the international stage garnered plenty of attention as well, especially when he claimed top defenseman honors at the 2019 World Junior Championship after leading all players in assists (7) and differential (+12), and all of his fellow rearguards in points (8).

Romanov knows that relying on his previous accolades alone won't earn him a roster spot with the big club, however, so he's eager to battle for a job on this side of the pond.

"I need to prove it. I need to train hard and prove to the coaches that I can play in the NHL," insisted Romanov. "I just want to play my first game and play in the NHL. I will be training so hard."

Romanov's agent, Daniel Milstein, who was acting as an interpreter during the call, indicated that his client is working out at home right now.

Apparently, he has everything he needs to prepare himself physically and hone his skills.

"He has a big gym. And he has a net outside, so he basically shoots the puck all day and works out in the gym. He's got the weights, and the program was given to him by the Montreal Canadiens athletic trainers, so he follows the protocol that was set in place by the Montreal personnel," explained Milstein. "He feels good, and he feels in shape, and as soon as the borders are open and he's allowed to come, he's looking forward to joining the team right away."

Video: Conference call: Alexander Romanov

Milstein recounted that shortly after Romanov signed with Montreal late Thursday night, he immediately headed back into the gym to work up a sweat.

"His celebration was at the gym," joked Milstein.

That's music to the ears of members of the Canadiens' brass, of course, who've been anticipating Romanov's arrival on Quebec soil for a while.

As far as transitioning to the NHL goes, the youngster isn't sweating it at all.

He's up to any task assigned his way.

"It's easy for him to adapt and adjust to any system," said Milstein, recapping a Romanov reply. "He would do whatever the coach would want him to do."

What about spending time in the AHL, if that ends up being the case?

There's no panic there, either.

"I'm ready to play in the AHL. I'm ready to play in the NHL. I'm ready to play in North America," stressed Romanov.

But sporting Canadiens colors from the get-go is Plan A.

"The plan is Montreal is purchasing Alexander a one-way ticket, and he's coming to Montreal for good," insisted Milstein. "He's ready to come here on a one-way ticket to work hard and prove to everybody that he's worthy of an opportunity, and that he's an NHL player."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: 𝙱𝚒𝚎𝚗𝚝��𝚝...𝙲𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚜𝚘𝚘𝚗... pic.twitter.com/4ztZMe4hhG

No doubt the highly-touted prospect will be welcomed with open arms when his flight touches down at Trudeau airport at some point down the road.

Romanov is well aware that fans have been paying close attention to his progress since he was plucked from the crowd at American Airlines Arena in Dallas.

"Of course I've been following all the news and comments," said Romanov, with Milstein's help. "He's been reading up over the last couple of years. He is extremely, extremely happy with all the warm comments that he's seen, and now he has to come and prove that the fans and media were right about him."

The fact that Romanov has been working on his English skills with the help of a teacher will only endear him to his new supporters even more.

"I'm learning every day," confirmed Romanov. "At first, it's not going to be easy [to fit into the locker room], but the goal is to get there as soon as possible and start practicing the language."

It goes without saying that Canadiens fans worldwide wish him nothing but the best.

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