MONTREAL, QB– Once the news broke that the New York Islanders had sent the 13th pick to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Alexander Romanov the question became did Lou Lamoriello overpay for the 22-year-old?
I get it. On the surface, it looks like a complete overpayment, especially when the Islanders traded Devon Toews for two second-round selections in October of 2020. Without creating a riot amongst the fanbase, Devon Toews had not shown to be the player he has shown to be around the all-star cast that Joe Sakic has in Colorado. Playing with Cale Makar clearly has its perks.
Whatever prospect was taken at no. 13 was at least two to three years away from making an impact with the New York Islanders, a team in win-now mode. Alexander Romanov was a second-round draft pick in his own right back in 2018 and only has 133 career games under his belt (not even two seasons’ worth of games).
As Lou Lamoriello said in his media session following the first round, “He’s got, you know, a lot in him potentially to get better.”
Was there other defensemen available for Lou Lamoriello to acquire? Yeah, but at what cost?
You have 24-year-old Jakob Chychrun in Arizona, a move that would cost the 13th pick, an already established NHL player, and a top prospect. Montreal Canadiens Jeff Petry, 32, would likely cost a second-rounder and a top prospect.
All the Islanders had to do to get the young Romanov was the 13th pick. And yes, Romanov is in need of a new contract extension given his restricted free agent status (not arbitration-eligible), but it should not be a high bargain.
He is a RFA 10.2c which means:
#Isles Alex Romanov cannot be offer sheeted and he is not arbitration-eligible (RFA 10.2c). Must sign with team that owns his rights (NYI). Bridge deal, $2-2.5 M, long term 4-$4.5 M maybe?
*deleted initial tweet because of it’s confusion. Carry on with your Friday morning.
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) July 8, 2022
Romanov’s age and the fact that he has not burst onto the scene yet means he won’t be demanding big-time money and that allows the Islanders to still have salary cap space to get a forward, even a Johnny Gaudreau type of player.
You have to remember that a prospect is merely that. When you trade the 13th pick, sure, you are looking for a more established NHL player that you know can help the organization right now. Despite the lack of offensive production from Romanov, that does not mean this was a lackluster move.
If anything, acquiring more of a defensive defenseman, who also has the ability to skate with the puck, is exactly what the New York Islanders need–especially alongside Noah Dobson.
Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes came out and said how tough it was to move Romanov, which should allow for pessimistic Islanders fans to take a deep breath.
“I was not pleased about having to more Romanov,” Hughes said in his press conference following the draft.
Hughes also added that Lou Lamoriello identified Alexander Romanov as a piece he wanted and the Canadiens really wanted Dach so therefore they needed to do what was best.
I have a belief, and not saying that everyone needs to agree, but if you have a strength, you keep it as a strength. Despite what transpired last season on the backend of the New York Islanders, their strength is on the backend.
As of now, this is how the New York Islanders defense lines up, before any further moves:
Adam Pelech–Ryan Pulock
Alex Romanov–Noah Dobson
Robin Salo–Scott Mayfield
Now, the answer to the overhyped overpayment question might be able to be answered after Alexander Romanov’s first season on the island. It might be answered in year two.
But right now, the New York Islanders are better suited after the trade than they were before and now we wait and see if Lou Lamoriello makes more moves to clear cap space and acquire that highly touted forward.
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