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Canadiens, Romanov waiting for clarity on how to proceed with contract

If you’re questioning about what the NHL’s memorandum of understanding for its new collective bargaining agreement and its return-to-play protocol mean for Alexander Romanov, you’re not alone.

As of this now, the Montreal Canadiens, agent Dan Milstein and Romanov have more questions than they do answers (please note that this could change in an instant).

Players like Romanov — drafted players who have been placed on their team’s reserve list, players who were previously eligible to sign and play immediately at the end of their respective seasons in other leagues — will be permitted to sign their entry-level deal and have it start in 2019-20, but they won’t be permitted to play in this summer’s games.

If you’re asking yourself why the Canadiens would be willing to sign Romanov for 2019-20 and allow him to burn a year of his contract even though he won’t be eligible to play, you’re asking the right question. It’s hard to imagine the Montreal brass being too enthralled about the idea of getting Romanov a year closer to a potentially large payout — one that would be earned off a smaller sample size — without even getting to use him this summer.

In an ideal world, he’d sign, immediately burn the first year of his three-year deal with the Canadiens, participate in their upcoming training camp, practice with them, participate in all team functions in the hub city, and then have an opportunity to participate in tournaments that teams will likely organize for their prospects come fall.

That would even be somewhat good for the Canadiens, too, though it’s a lot to ask of them. Particularly on the hub-city front.

The Canadiens, like every other team participating in the return-to-play model, will have difficult decisions to make on who gets to come with them to Toronto later this month.

Once you start crunching the numbers — between players, members of the administration, the coaching staff, the medical staff, equipment managers, and at least one member of the team’s marketing staff — you start to understand how hard it might be to squeeze someone in who you can’t even use.

They drafted him 38th overall in 2018, they’ve watched him become an extraordinary young professional since, and they were hoping to see him playing a significant role in helping them take a big step forward as soon as possible.

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