They needed a left-handed, puck-moving defenceman, and they found one with the help of the Quebec Nordiques. As a result, Lou Lamoriello selected a player with the 13th overall pick in Thursday’s NHL draught.
The Islanders traded the 13th pick to the Canadiens in exchange for Alexander Romanov and the 98th pick in order to build a long-term defense for the team. After Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, 22-year-old Russian-born Romanov joins Noah Dobson on the team’s depth chart.
Prior to that, Lamoriello needs to take care of some business with Romanov and Dobson. A 10.2(c) restricted free agent, Romanov is no longer bound by his team’s terms and is therefore not available for signing to an offer sheet. A restricted free agent, Dobson is eligible for offer sheets if he isn’t signed by July 13th.
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Romanov, the 38th overall pick in the 2018 draught, joins the Islanders after playing for the Canadiens for the previous two seasons. Romanov, while scoring just three goals and 10 assists in 2021-22, is regarded as a great skater and can get the puck up ice, which the Islanders lacked from their defensemen in 2021-22.
Because of the salary constraint, Lamoriello had to part ways with Devon Toews and Nick Leddy after both of the Isles’ playoff appearances in 2020 and 2021. He’ll be hoping that Romanov can fill the void left by Toews and Leddy’s contributions to the Islanders’ success.
With the Canadiens’ penalty kill expected to be without Zdeno Chara, Romanov might fill Romanov’s shoes. The Canadiens used Romanov last season, and he logged over 200 minutes down a man.
That major task now completed, Lamoriello’s next priority could be to locate an offensive winger to pair with Mathew Barzal. Having lost Jordan Eberle to the Kraken in the expansion draught the previous season, the Islanders had difficulty finding the appropriate line combinations to unleash the incredibly gifted center.
Spending the remaining cap space after Dobson and Romanov are locked up seems obvious, but finding a true difference-maker may need removing some money from the team’s books as well.
With Andy Greene and Sebastian Aho set to become unrestricted free agents, the Islanders will have to find a new third-line center in addition to Chara. However, now that they have a solid top-four, it’s likely that Robin Salo will get the nod on the left side.
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