On July 13th at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, it wasn't just the media or the fans that were surprised when the news broke that the NY Islanders were acquiring 22-year-old defenseman Alexander Romanov. Romanov himself even explained in the Islanders' latest press conference that he was shocked to hear he had been traded to the Islanders but is excited to already be on Long Island:
"I was shocked, honestly, it was a surprise for me. I didn't expect it but I'm so excited to be here and I'm already on Long Island and getting ready (for) the season. I'm ready to play right now, honestly."- Alexander Romanov
The Romanov acquisition comes after a season where just about anything that could go wrong did, and after Isles GM Lou Lamoriello reflected on the season, he knew the Islanders needed to improve their blue line in order to get back to their winning ways:
"We’d like to improve our defense if we can, as far as offensively. "- Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello
The thing about Romanov is that he's not exactly an offensive threat. He's solidified himself as a good defender in his own end, but much of the criticism in his game points to skating the puck in transition and providing offense.
The good news is Romanov knows what he has to do to improve his game. He's ready to bang bodies like he's used to, but when asked about what he did this summer to improve his skill set, his answer was firm that he was determined to bring more offense on the ice:
"All offseason, I work only with the puck, with skills cause I want to improve my game with the puck, honestly. But I also can play physical. I also can hit guys and start attacks, like breakouts, but I want to play more in the offensive zone"- Alexander Romanov
The addition of Romanov is sure to be an upgrade from what the Islanders had in Noah Dobson's former partner, Zdeno Chara. It may not come offensively, but Romanov is a good skater, and Dobson's presence on the ice could deter the attention from Romanov giving him the opportunity to capitalize on some chances.
Romanov has played in 133 NHL games during his young career, scoring just four goals and adding 15 assists. He wasn't exactly a point collector over in the KHL either skating for CSKA Moscow, collecting just one goal and 10 assists in 86 games across two seasons.
Now skating for the Islanders, Romanov won't be depended on as much as he was with the Montreal Canadiens where he was put in a situation where he was skating as part of the team's first defensive pair. From what Romanov's likely new defensive partner has seen, Dobson believes his skill set will translate well in the Islanders lineup:
"I think just looking at the strengths, Alex is good enough. He’s a good skater, he can be a good puck-mover and I think some of those attributes are some of my strengths as well. So I think having those tools can work well, especially, breaking pucks out and the transition in the offensive zone as well."- Noah Dobson
If nothing else, Romanov is the ying to Dobson's yang on the ice. Dobson has proven to be an offensive threat, and Romanov can take care of things in his own end. However, Romanov is still young enough to continue to develop his game. Stefen Rosner of NYIHockeyNow caught up with Marco D’Amico of MontrealHockeyNow to talk about the Islanders' new defenseman. D'Amico explains that Romanov has a good shot that will find the net and has the ability to walk the blue line, important skills for a defenseman to have. So, when asked why Romanov doesn't have more points in his career, D'Amico answered:
"Well, first of all, he’s never used on the powerplay… and then you’re not using him in offensive situations. Most of his deployment was in defensive zone situations. And, you know, Montreal didn’t score many goals last year and didn’t generate much offense."- Marco D'Amico
The addition of Romanov has been clouded by Lamoriello's lack of making any other transactions to improve the team, but it shouldn't be overlooked how important Romanov is moving forward. The Islanders' top-four on the blue line is now quite strong, and they're just the average age of 24.75 to boot. Montreal fans weren't exactly pleased with losing Romanov, either, some coining the trade as the "Mikhail Sergachev trade 2.0." That's not to say Romanov will be as good as Sergachev, but it says something that Montreal fans weren't thrilled to lose a fan favorite. Romanov will now look to bring that prowess to the Islanders with the chance to prove he has some offensive flare to add to his repertoire, too.