Rangers Sign Russian Defenseman Alexei Bereglazov

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with defenseman Alexei Bereglazov, the team announced on Twitter.

Bereglazov, who just turned 23, recently finished up his third KHL season. He played a notable role on Metallurg Magnitogorsk as they fell to Igor Shestyorkin’s SKA in the Gagarin Cup (KHL Final).

Listed at 6’3.5 and 205 pounds on the KHL’s official site, Bereglazov certainly is a big defenseman, and he uses that size well. He’s good at using his body as leverage in board battles and to shield the puck.

Though he certainly uses his body to block shots, he has a pretty good feel for when it’s best to let the goaltender see the puck. Unfortunately this next play actually results in a goal, but that’s really on the goaltender for not taking care of the puck. Watch as he boxes his man out and  gives his goaltender clear sight.

He’s a shutdown defenseman, but even shot suppressors have to have the requisite offensive ability to make it at the NHL level. Bereglazov can move the puck, has decent mobility, and sufficient vision with the puck on his stick.

The transition from European to North American rinks can be tough on forwards. I would imagine it’s even tougher on defensemen, who have to completely adjust their concepts of spacing on defensive assignments, gap control, and so on. Nonetheless, he should challenge for an NHL spot out of training camp. It’s hard to imagine him making the move to North America without that assurance. Despite being left-handed, he played on the right side for Magnitogorsk, so that versatility gives the Rangers options for where they might want to play him. The lack of offensive upside limits him but Bereglazov has a legitimate chance at becoming a solid bottom-four defenseman who features in shutdown minutes and penalty kill duties.