The New York Islanders made a major trade last Thursday, sending the 13th overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Alexander Romanov and the 98th overall pick.
There was a lot of speculation as to what the Islanders would do with the pick and whether they’d end up moving it. They were heavily linked to a potential J.T. Miller trade with the Vancouver Canucks, but nothing materialized.
What did take place though was the unexpected deal with the Canadiens. Romanov is 22 years old and has just 133 career games of NHL experience. That said, he should also be a great fit with the Islanders.
Romanov should end up on the left side of the team’s top-four group, an area the team desperately needed to address. He was already averaging over 20 minutes per game this season with Montreal and as he continues to get more comfortable in the league, his role should only grow.
Given he’s also still so young, he works well with the Islanders' timeline. New York is an old team that needs to get younger but at the same time, they’re still looking to compete now. If the Islanders kept the 13th pick instead, whoever they would’ve selected would likely still be several years off from being an impact NHL player. With Romanov though, he's young enough to be part of the defense group for a very long time but also immediately helps the team.
The one downside I see though is that Romanov isn’t a defender who’s going to add a lot of offense. He’s strong defensively and can add a major physical presence but he also had just 13 points in 79 games this year. Given the Islanders have lost Devon Toews and Nick Leddy in back-to-back years, the left side of the team’s defense group has lost a lot of their offensive ability and Romanov likely won’t help that.
The Islanders also do still need to re-sign the defender, given he’s currently a restricted free agent.
Regardless though, this is a really good pickup for the Islanders. You could argue they gave up a lot to get him and I think that’s fair. I’m not sure how much of an overpayment it was but from Montreal’s perspective, there wasn’t much of an incentive to move a good, young defenseman. New York had to present a worthwhile offer to make it happen.
So while it seemed like the 13th overall pick would possibly be dealt to add a forward, the upgrade ended up coming on the blue line. It's good to see the Islanders aggressive in trying to improve and Romanov should be an important addition.