3. Alexander Romanov Explodes for a 50+ Point Breakout Season
It may seem crazy to think that the Islanders' sole significant acquisition during the offseason will have a season like this, but two words come to mind in a situation like this: Noah Dobson.
Dobson's second season in the league was underwhelming to say the least when comparing it to the year he had this past season. Jumping from 3 goals and 14 points up to an astounding 13 goals and 51 points in his junior campaign, that high of a jump was surely unexpected.
"“His skating is impeccable. It’s the first thing that’s going to stand out to the Islander fans is that, boy he can move quickly.""- Marco D'Amico- Montreal beat reporter
With the departure of Andy Greene, Alexander Romanov is expected to be sliding in with Dobson on his left side, which should benefit him greatly. Entering his third year, the smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman with an edge to his game also had high expectations to pick up the scoring for the Montreal Canadiens last season. That, along with pretty much everything else last season, did not go the way the Canadiens had expected, finishing with 3 goals and 13 points, coincidentally almost identical to Dobson.
Romanov's offensive potential may be understated now because of how bad Montreal was around the 22 year old defenseman, but he was one of the few players that were not a weak spot. His xGF in his sophomore season was 59.93 on a bad, low-scoring team, which compared to Dobson's second season is even more promising. Dobson finished with a 31.68 xGF on a good, low-scoring team and improved to a very impressive 87.33 during his breakout 2021-22.
If we can expect anything for Romanov this season, we can expect that his offensive usage and opportunity will grow with being paired up with Dobson. Most of Romanov's shifts started in the defensive zone in Montreal, with his offensive zone start percentage at a low 33.1%, whereas Dobson usually starts in the offensive zone, with that percentage being 60.22%. This is also somehow the lowest in his career when you consider his efficiency in that zone.
""When Martin St. Louis came in and they opened up the games, he was far more efficient at moving the puck up the ice and transporting the puck because he has that ability. We’ve seen it at World Junior Championships. He just wasn’t used in that role.”"- Marco D'Amico
So, why can't he break out like Dobson did last year? He will have a greater opportunity to showcase his skills on a much better team, which will also put him in the best position to succeed. Lou Lamoriello traded a first-round pick for him for crying out loud, 13th overall specifically, so if he spent that high a pick on a young, promising Romanov, he must believe that he can be an impact player for the Islanders for the foreseeable future.