As the NHL off-season shifts its focus to free agency next week, let’s review the New York Islanders' biggest move from the draft.
On Thursday night, the Islanders traded the 13th overall pick to the Montreal Canadians in exchange for the 98th overall pick in the draft and defenseman, Alexander Romanov.
The move was brought with mixed reactions from the Islanders' passionate fanbase, likely because fans may not be familiar with Romanov.
Romanov was the Canadiens' second-round pick, 38th overall, in the 2018 NHL draft. In 133 career games, Romanov has four goals and 19 points. Additionally, the young Russian has one goal in four playoff games. More importantly, he has 365 career hits in that small portion.
As the dust settles on the transaction, the doubters of the move will start to come around. Romanov is a player that has not reached his potential but is still a very productive NHL defenseman.
Romanov has gained the reputation as a physical defenseman and not only will the physicality bring the fans around to the trade, but he's also a good skater that has shown flashes of good vision and can make smart passes out of the defensive zone that will lead to offensive chances, but it's also his biggest area of weakness.
He's not traditionally a player that lights up the score sheet, but Romanov will certainly provide the Islanders more scoring chances, which is something they lacked last season from the back-end. In his decreased roll with the Islanders, he may even develop more offensive prowess which could lead to an improvement on the scoresheet.
Islander fans want to see a strong effort and physical play night in and night out and that's what the 22-year-old defenseman brings. For this reason alone, I predict many doubters and fans in general will be wearing a Romanov jersey by the new year.
Another aspect of the Romanov move to consider is that the offseason has just begun and this is likely not the only shake-up that'll happen.
The ultimate fear is that Lamoriello believes that this team can regain the exact form from the two seasons that ended in the Eastern Conference Finals with an unchanged forward group. This one move alone would certainly support that theory as the forward group remains intact knowing their scoring troubles. But, this will and should be the first of many moves by Lamoriello. By the end of the offseason, when Lamoriello has finished his work, this trade will have much more meaning.
The priority is and should always be to acquire a natural scoring forward. If this can be done, the Romanov move will look even more valuable as the season approaches. Patience is difficult for many hockey fans but let's not measure Lamoriello's offseason just yet and check back in about a month, there's still plenty of time to upgrade the Islanders roster.