NY Islanders: 5 moments from Alexander Romanov you’ll love

Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames
Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames / Derek Leung/GettyImages
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Heading into the 2022 NHL Draft, the NY Islanders owned their first-round pick for the first time since the draft in 2019 when they selected Simon Holmstrom 23rd overall. Despite still owning the pick on July 7th, the belief was that GM Lou Lamoriello would move the 13th overall selection in return for an immediate roster upgrade. The road wasn't exactly a straight line to get there, but Lamoriello did exactly that, rather than use the selection to improve what's largely known as a weak prospect pool in the Islanders pipeline.

Moments before the trade was announced, there was the belief that something was brewing between the Islanders and the Vancouver Canucks. The rumor was that the Canucks were hesitant to sign J.T. Miller to a long-term contract, and they were open to listening to offers on the 99-point player.

When push came to shove, it appeared that the Canucks weren't willing to allow Miller to talk extension with the Islanders causing the deal to fall apart at the table, and when asked about the situation, Patrick Allvin and Lamoriello sent mixed messages about what happened:

Ask Vancouver.
Lou Lamoriello on possible Miller trade
There was definitely nothing going on [with the Islanders].
Patrick Allvin on possible Miller trade

Believe it or not, we're not here to talk about the Miller fallout. Lamoriello had a plan, and a darn good one when things fell apart last second with Vancouver. Moments later, the Islanders and Montreal Canadiens were in agreement to swap the 13th overall selection for Alexander Romanov and a fourth-round pick in 2022. The fourth-rounder was used later to select defenseman Isaiah George.

Acquiring Romanov received mixed reviews. Some believed it was an expensive price to pay and others believe the Islanders got an impact player. The truth of the matter is the Islanders traded a defenseman that will slot into the Islanders' blue line in the top-4, presumably as Noah Dobson's new D-partner. Romanov is 22 years old and is known as a physical defensive defenseman with excellent skating ability. He has already collected a highlight reel of big hits and some believe he has untapped potential in the offense department. Regardless, Romanov is that kind of defenseman NHL organizations hope to draft at 13th overall and will be an immediate upgrade to the Islanders' blue line.

In the Islanders' offseason disappointment, the acquisition of Romanov was lost. As TSN's Eric Macramalla said, "(Romanov) is a stud and your parents feel it when he hits you." He's an exciting, young addition to the Islanders' defense that will surely bring fans to the edge of their seat or feet with some big hits on the ice with the potential to blossom into more in a well-structured Lane Lambert system. With that said, let's take a look at some of Romanov's top moments in his young NHL career.

Romanov buries Sam Lafferty

It's only fitting to start the highlight reel with one of Romanov's big hits. The Canadiens visited the United Center on January 13th to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams to this point were out of the playoff equation, however, that didn't result in a game that lacked compete.

In this play, Sam Lafferty receives a pass behind the Montreal defenders, loosely handling the puck with the opportunity to gain control of the offensive zone. Romanov uses his excellent skating ability to catch up to the Blackhawks forward and lays a big check on Lafferty. At full speed, it appeared as if it could have been a questionable hit, however, replays showed Romanov made shoulder-to-shoulder contact making for a clean hit. Lafferty was okay, popping back up immediately from the hit and skating off on his own accord, but not before Ryan Carpenter took exception, defending his and wrestling Romanov to the ground. However, at 6'1", 209 lbs, Romanov came out of the scrap on top of Carpenter.

It's hard to say that Romanov saved a goal, but he stopped a scoring chance no-less. Romanov took a good route to catch up to Lafferty in order to make shoulder-on-shoulder contact and throw a clean hit. It's the kind of pace and electricity Islander fans are used to seeing from the fourth line (before last season), and is the kind of injection the Islanders were missing on the blue line in 2021-22.

Romanov's heads up assist

This highlight reel won't just consist of big hits by Romanov. One year to the day prior to the Lafferty hit, Romanov displayed heads-up playmaking ability in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in his first ever NHL regular season game.

The puck was in the Canadiens' end with Romanov looking to set up a rush. Both Montreal and Toronto called for line changes with the puck on the end of Romanov's stick. Over the boards came Tomáš Tatar in the neutral zone toward the Maple Leafs blue line and in front of him he saw a clean sheet of ice and only Maple Leafs netminder, Frederik Anderson. Romanov with his head up the entire play stick handles the puck, reads the neutral zone with the line changes happening simultaneously, finds Tatar wide open, and puts a perfect pass on the back of his stick to spring him for a breakaway. Tatar beat Anderson five-hole to give the Canadiens the 3-1 lead.

Romanov's first point in his NHL regular season career was a heads-up play taking advantage of a team in transition. Traditionally, Romanov doesn't collect a ton of points in a season, but at just 22 years old, you can see the untapped offensive potential that has been spoken regarding his game. This summer, Romanov admitted to working more with "puck skills," acknowledging the need to improve in that area, opening the possibility to see plays like this one more often.

Romanov stands up Alex Pietrangelo

Back in the hits department is a play where Romanov stands up one of the more prolific defensemen in the NHL today in the 2021 NHL Playoffs. A broken play along the boards in the Vegas Golden Knights end sent the puck to the other end of the ice. Former Golden Knight, Ryan Reaves, backhands a puck out of danger closer to Vegas' end that makes its way to the Montreal blue line. Bouncing, the puck hits off Romanov and lands on Alex Pietrangelo's stick and he skates the puck into Montreal's zone.

Pietrangelo, above the dots, looks to be skating the puck deep into the Canadiens zone until he decides to put the puck on his backhand in an attempt to skate around Romanov and inside the dots. Reading the play well, Romanov stays square to Pietrangelo and lays out a huge chest-on-chest hit sending the 6'3", 213 lb defenseman to the ice. A couple of inches shorter and a few pounds lighter, Romanov's big hit takes the puck off Pietrangelo allowing D-partner, Ben Chiarot, to regain possession. The play wasn't over there, as Chiarot sends the puck back to Romanov in the Montreal end with Vegas forechecking, however, skating and stick-handling with his head up, Romanov passes the puck to a teammate in the neutral zone and away from danger.

It's another good play by Romanov in which he makes a big hit, doesn't take himself out of the play, and negates a scoring chance. It's an added bonus he did it against Pietrangelo, too, who was in the first year of his seven-year, $61.6 million contract.

Romanov's first playoff goal

Romanov didn't get a ton of playing time during the Canadiens' Stanley Cup run in the 2021 NHL playoffs. He did, however, make the most of his time when he was in the lineup. The Canadiens trailed the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final and then head coach Dominique Ducharme was looking to shake things up by inserting Romanov into the lineup for the first time in three weeks.

Game 4 was at the Bell Centre, and the Canadiens were on the brink of elimination. Tied at one goal each in the third period, Jake Evans intercepts an attempted clear from behind the net by Andrei Vasilevskiy along the boards. Romanov just steps onto the ice and into the play when Evans throws the intercepted puck to the blue line where Romanov retrieves it. Romanov handles the puck at the blue line from the boards, and with his head up the whole time, Romanov display's patience with the puck on his stick until a shooting lane opens, flicks a wrist shot toward Vasilevskiy, and with traffic in front of the Lightning goaltender, the puck beats him high stick-side.

The impressive thing about Romanov's first career NHL playoff goal was not that it came on a seven-second shift. It was his ability to retrieve the puck at the blue line, maintain zone control, and find an open shooting lane from far out all while his head was up reading the ice in front of him. Pucks on net is always a good thing and you hope he can find more of that with the Islanders.

Romanov buckles Jujhar Khaira

We'll start by saying no one wants to see anyone get hurt. Thankfully, Jujhar Khaira was okay after this big hit by Romanov. Ending off the Romanov-reel, in a game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Islanders' newest defenseman drew comparisons to the famous "Kronwall" hits Niklas Kronwall made so famous in his days with the Detroit Red Wings.

Khaira took the puck in transition from his end of the ice to the neutral zone looking to lead a rush to the Canadiens' end of the ice. Romanov does an excellent job lining Khaira up along the boards back-peddling in the Oilers' forwards direction. He stops moving his feet with plenty of distance in between the two of them in order to ensure he doesn't take a penalty and throws a hybrid hip/shoulder check to the hip-to-chest area of Khaira. The big, clean hit gave Khaira some trouble skating off the ice as he's dealt with head injuries before. However, it forced the puck out of Edmonton's possession and the Canadiens regained puck control.

Romanov has the knack for lining up hits that not only take the puck off the oppositions stick, but they also don't take him out of plays and put him out of position. In the event he finds himself out of position, his above average skating allows him to quickly recover and put himself back where he belongs.

The acquisition from Romanov flew under the radar with the anticipation that the Islanders were going to add more than just the Moscow, Russian native. However, Romanov makes the Islanders a better team and should help them be more reminiscent of the team that took the Lightning seven games in the Eastern Conference Final. These moments are just a few snippets of what Romanov can and will do with the Islanders with the potential he can blossom into an even better player.

Two years later: The Game 7 NY Islanders fans don't talk about enough. dark. Next