Jeff Petry admits to recognizing himself a little when he observes Alexander Romanov. He may not have the same energy and exuberance as the 21-year-old Russian, but he had to continue his progression to maintain his place in the NHL and become a key part of a team.
Romanov is preparing to play a second season in the league. He joined the Canadian after being named the World Junior Championship MVP in 2019 and playing two full seasons in the Continental Hockey League (KHL), in Russia.
After making a good impression at camp in January 2021 and early in the season, Romanov has had some ups and downs during his rookie campaign. Even though he played 54 of 56 regular games, he played in only 4 of the Habs 22 games during the playoffs.
“There are very few players who come in and are ready for anything in their first season,” said Petry, who has completed a duet with Romanov since the start of the camp. I believe there are a lot of youngsters making their way into the NHL, but the teams understand that they will have to keep learning. It’s good to go through the stages playing matches. This is how you will learn things. When i see him [Romanov] and think of the player that I was, I see a lot of similarities. “
Petry has had many ups and downs during his career, especially during his time with the Edmonton Oilers. It was only after arriving in Montreal that he managed to become a more complete defender and that was when his offensive output also increased.
There are very few players arriving who are ready for anything from their first season
He finally enjoyed a debut campaign of at least 40 points at the age of 30 and has since repeated the feat every season. Last winter, at 33, he placed seventh among NHL defensemen with 42 points in just 55 games.
Petry is therefore not worried that Romanov will flourish one day, although some would like to see him progress more quickly. “He skates well, he’s strong, he moves the puck well. He has what it takes to be a great defenseman, said Petry. Like any young player, and even in my case still, there is room for improvement. “
Consistency is the key
Over the past few years, Petry has often been called upon to take over from Shea Weber when the latter was injured. The Canadian will look to him to guide the defensive brigade this season, in the absence of the captain.
“Over the past few years, I’ve been able to make my game more complete and have developed a style that looks good on me,” said Petry. So I’m going to want to continue in the same niche. [L’absence de Weber] won’t change much. Maybe I’ll have a bigger shorthanded role, but that’s something that hasn’t been addressed yet.
“I just want to be a consistent player. “
Consistency was key for Petry last winter, as he spent the majority of the season on the right of Joel Edmundson. Head coach Dominique Ducharme has yet to employ duets with regular members since the start of the camp, apart from the Romanov-Petry combination, not least due to the absence of Edmundson.
The 28-year-old Manitoban continues to skate with an Assistant Athletic Therapist and has yet to join his teammates in training. When he returns, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him again to Petry’s left.
“This pair definitely had a stabilizing effect for the team,” said Ducharme. It’s like a trio that has already enjoyed offensive success. We could start with this pair. We’ll see, when “Edy” returns, what condition the rest of the lineup is in as well. But knowing that we can go back to that is reassuring. “
Petry should also see his role take on more importance in the locker room in Weber’s absence. He is expected to be part of the group of leaders, along with Brendan Gallagher, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson and Nick Suzuki.