The New York Islanders got their off-season rolling in Montreal on Day 1 of the NHL Draft. The trade with the Canadiens sending them their 1st-round pick (13th overall) for Alexander Romanov and Montreal's fourth-round pick (98th overall) was a move that added much-needed youth to the organization, as well as the team today.
New York Islanders, General Manager-President, Lou Lamoriello made it clear at the end of the season that he wanted to improve the team's blue line this off-season. Landing Romanov was a big upgrade for the blue and orange for next season and beyond.
Heading into the off-season all the NHL insiders were saying how much the Isles' first-round pick was in play to upgrade the team now. Many wondered if would it be moved for a veteran player.
While such a move would improve the team, one had to wonder by trading their first-round pick for the third year in a row, how much more would the Isles be harming their future. It's probably not a huge leap to say that the Isles' thin farm system can be tied to a large degree of them trading draft picks these last couple of years to either improve the team (J, G Pageau, Andy Greene, Kyle Palmieri) or free up cap space (Andrew Ladd).
Due to the insertion of youth, the Romanov trade helps the Islanders today and tomorrow due to this insertion of youth. Romanov checks many boxes (lefty D-man, skating, physical player, defensive-minded) for the Isles in terms of adding a quality blue liner to their lineup. The fact that he is just 22 is very precious as the Islanders roster does have some age on it.
Now the Isle's top two defense pairings have a pair of 22-year-olds in Noah Dobson and Romanov and a pair of 27-year-olds in Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. In a perfect world in a couple of years time, Dobson and Romanov will be the top blue line pair with Pulock and Pelech becoming the second unit.
If Robin Salo (who is just 23) can prove himself this season as a reliable third-pairing guy, all of sudden the Islanders have an excellent group of defensemen in their twenties next season and beyond. Last year the Isles had a lot of age on their blue line with Greene and Zdeno Chara. The cap crunch the Islanders were under had a lot to do with that.
This trade also included the Canadiens' fourth-round pick (98th overall - first pick in the 4th Round). The Isles used that pick to select defenseman Isaiah George. The Isles front office had to be thrilled that George was still on the board when their turn came up at number 98. The Hockey News 2022 NHL Draft rankings had George as the 57th best prospect.
Adding George and defenseman Calle Odelius (Isles second-round pick at 65th overall) gives the blue and orange two talented young defensemen in the pipeline. In two to three years, you can see both guys suiting up for the Islanders and adding even more youth to their lineup. The Hockey News had Odelius ranked 34th overall in their Draft rankings, so the Isles taking him with the 65th pick was a steal.
Both Odelius and George are much-needed additions to a thin prospect pool. Keep in mind while neither player is a sure thing both young defensemen have a lot of talent, good size, strong skating ability, and skill. Have to like their chances of being future players with the big club.
The trade with Montreal was a great shot in the arm for the Islanders today and also just as important for years to come.