The New York Rangers today announced they have signed Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov to an entry-level contract. The 22-year-old defenseman, who was not drafted in the NHL in his eligibility years, has spent his whole pro career within the Metallurg Magnitogorsk organization, with whom he won one Gagarin Cup in 2016 and lost the finals series against SKA this season. He’s not the first defenseman of these days to sign with a New York team after the New Jersey Devils
He’s not the first defenseman to sign with a New York team after the New Jersey Devils signed Yaroslav Dyblenko on Thursday. Last summer, Bereglazov skated at the Arizona Coyotes rookie camp.
Bereglazov led KHL d-men 24 yrs old or younger in assists and tied for first among KHL d-men 24 yrs old or younger in points this season. https://t.co/PnlSSCqvtW
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 21, 2017
Bereglazov has also represented Russia on numerous occasions, bringing home a bronze medal at the 2014 WJC, hosted in Malmö, Sweden, where he was a teammate of Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich. In 2012, he was one of his team’s top-scoring defensemen at the U18 WJC in the Czech Republic, where the Russians didn’t have their best tournament with a quarterfinal exit against a Team Canada led by Mathew Dumba and Sam Reinhart. He is also most likely going to represent Russia in May at the upcoming IIHF World Championship in Paris and Cologne.
A New Challenge for Bereglazov
The native of Magnitogorsk, Russia, is a defensive-minded defenseman with good size (6’4″, 205 lbs., according to his profile on the KHL official website), a great reach and a very good defensive awareness. His checking, positioning and ability to read plays are at a very good level, and he is a player with all the tools to play in the NHL. He can also play on both sides (he mostly played on the right in Russia), and his versatility can mean more options for the Rangers. He has also a good eye for the opening pass, knows how to move the puck and is very good at blocking shots.
His presence can be heard on the boards, although he’s not a classic physical defenseman and isn’t an open-ice hitter as some other players of his size are. His size also somewhat hinders his skating a bit, although this shouldn’t be too much of a problem on the smaller ice surface of the National Hockey League. At this point, he is ready to play in the NHL and the Rangers have a great option for a cheap third-pairing defenseman with the potential to climb the team’s depth chart in the next few years.
Bereglazov’s move to North America was less expected after the NHL declared it wasn’t sending players to the Olympic Games, as he would have most likely made the team if he kept playing at home and the NHL eventually fully supported its decision until next February.
Alexei Bereglazov’s Experience
In spite of his young age, Bereglazov is a very experienced player. He showed excellent play against men in the KHL in 2014 and has since become a key player for one of the best KHL teams. In his career, he played 165 regular season (33 points) and 45 playoff (14 points) games in the KHL.
Bereglazov led all KHL blue-liners up to 24 years old in assists (18) and tied for first among KHL defensemen in points (19) in the same age group this season. He also led his team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in blocked shots (68) in the 2016-17 campaign. He averaged a TOI of 19:27 in the regular season and 22:22 in Metallurg’s playoff run, some five minutes a night more if compared to the previous season.