Getty ImagesLast week the Edmonton Oilers agreed to terms with Anton Belov, a 26-year-old Russian defenseman who spent the last five seasons with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
Belov is the CSKA Youth Academy alumnus, who has become arguably the best defenseman in the KHL. Having achieved everything he could in the KHL, according to Belov himself, he decided it was time for the NHL.
It was about a year and a half ago that Belov realized he was ready for the NHL, the player told R-Sport.
“A lot of factors influenced that decision. First of all, it is a dream. The rest are just secondary reasons. Last year I stayed with Avangard, and I don’t regret it… I gained a lot of experience. And I realize that if it’s time to go to the NHL, then the time is now or never.”
Because Anton Belov was undrafted when he signed, he had an opportunity to pick and choose his club, with about half a dozen interested, according to his agent.
“I am very happy I ended up with the Oilers,” Belov said.
“Of all of the clubs the Oilers showed the most interest. First of all, I think, it’s because the team needs a defenseman of the type I am… I heard that the Oilers GM Craig MacTavish came to the World Championships and watched me play. I like the fact that the team in Edmonton is turning out to be very promising. There are young stars, especially on offense, so the club has a big future.”
Belov signed a one-year entry-level two-way deal and is very driven to prove himself.
“First of all, I want to develop professionally. I had a chance to sign a multi-year contract with Omsk this summer and provide for myself and my family for a very long time. But I think that these things make an athlete relaxed. When you know that you have a contract, that the money is coming, a feeling of easy and fullness sets in and the development halts right away,” Belov stated.
“You can even tell yourself ‘Everything is good, I am working,’ and at the same time you’re standing still. This is what I am afraid of. This is the reason I have always signed minimum term contracts, preferably for one year. I want to grow, progress and that’s why I made a decision to go to the NHL. I need to be demanding to myself until the end.”
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