The New York Islanders dealt their first-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Alexander Romanov, a 22-year-old, left-shooting defenseman from Moscow, Russia. The Islanders also received a fourth-round pick in the exchange; the Canadiens flipped the 13th-overall to Chicago in a package for Kirby Dach.
Romanov was a 2018 second-round pick (38th overall) by the Canadiens and just completed his second season in the NHL. Before joining the Canadiens, he played for CSKA in the KHL, where he was teammates with Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin.
This is clearly the Islanders’ attempt to fill the hole on the left side crated by the Nick Leddy and Devon Toews cap trades the previous two summers. Romanov hasn’t been a prolific scorer but he is considered a good skater and physical defender who can move the puck.
In Montreal, Romanov was either on the rise or being showcased as he took on heavier and heavier loads this past season. Describing his ascent late in the season, Arpon Basu at the Athletic wrote this in April:
Alexander Romanov has been deployed like a veteran, leading the Canadiens in minutes, facing difficult opposition, starting shifts in his own end, doing everything you ask of a top-pairing defender aside from playing on the power play.
Back on March 26, Romanov set a new career-high in ice time with 27:16, and he spent the majority of that time — 15:40, to be exact — facing Auston Matthews.
Romanov is 22. He has played 127 [ed. now 133] NHL games. He is, in fact, not a veteran.
But the fact he is playing like one is one of the more under-the-radar positive developments for the Canadiens this season.
Alex Romanov, traded to NYI, is a promising young defenceman who improved his results a lot after the coaching change midseason. #Isles pic.twitter.com/0uqkTuVsmi— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 7, 2022
One pro scout’s take on Romanov:— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) July 8, 2022
“Love him. Should flourish without the spotlight and pressure in Montreal. Solid two ways.”
And a pretty damning take from Dom Luszczyszyn at the Athletic:
The Islanders essentially traded a first-round pick for Romanov, a player whose stock has plummeted after a horrific sophomore season. He’s shown less than nothing at the NHL level to be worth that price tag and it feels like Montreal is taking advantage of his previously high pedigree.
We’ll see if the Isles were on to something or if this growth under Martin St. Louis was a mirage; it’s always hard to project with young, developing defensemen who aren’t instant stars.
But the Isles are in more of a win-now mode, so few were surprised that they dealt the 13th-overall pick for someone who can help them right away. The question is how far that help can go, and how much it’s worth.
Romanov’s cap-friendly entry level contract with a $894,167 cap hit is up, according to Cap Friendly, but he does not have enough service to receive an RFA offer sheet. (Sorry, we originally read his chart as having one year left.) So he should still be a pretty low cap hit, but not as low as his ELC.