On the first night of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Bell Centre erupted when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the trade of the night. In a three-team trade, the New York Islanders acquired Alexander Romanov from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the 13th overall pick. The Canadiens then used the draft selection to acquire Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks, completing the blockbuster trade and putting a bow on the big night.
Related: New York Islanders Trade For Alexander Romanov Fixes Defensive Issues
The trade immediately affected the three rosters involved. It’s still early to determine winners from the trade and the full aftermath of the deal. However, a few games into the 2022-23 season, the move looks like a win-win for the Islanders and the Canadiens with both teams set up for success both this year and for years to come.
Islanders Secure Their Blue Line
The Islanders adding Romanov to their blue line was a vital addition. After a season where the defense looked slow and struggled to handle the puck, the team needed to add youth and speed to the unit. Romanov brings both skills to the Islanders but also adds a hard-hitting presence. A few games into the season, he leads the team in blocked shots and the defense in hits, making the unit a tougher one for opponents to face.
Along with being a fit in the defense, Romanov has been a great complementary partner for Noah Dobson, who is emerging as one of the best two-way defensemen in the league. In previous seasons, Dobson was held back by an older, slower defenseman on his side whether it was Andy Greene or Zdeno Chara. This season, he has a defenseman that can skate with him and help turn turnovers into instant offense. Romanov ultimately gives the Islanders the young defensive duo that they’ve needed in recent years, one that can impact the team in all three zones and skate with any opponent.
The Islanders’ defense has been a strength in recent seasons, highlighted by Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock as the top unit and rounded out with two or three reliable pairings. However, with the Romanov addition, the Islanders not only are carried by their defense but might have put together their best group yet.
Canadiens Add Center Depth
The Canadiens gave up a valuable defenseman in Romanov but by acquiring Dach, they added a center that can be part of the top six soon. The team has been searching for an elite center for years and in the offseason, it was a priority to find a skater to fill the need. Despite passing up on the position in the draft, selecting Juraj Slafkovsky with the number one overall pick, they still managed to find their center for the future.
My colleagues Blain Potvin and Melissa Boyd, who both cover the Canadiens, echoed a similar sentiment about the Dach addition. They both cited the start that he is off to, and his ceiling to become a top-line center. At best Dach adds center depth, something the forward group desperately needs. Furthermore, the Canadiens have plenty of depth on the left side of their defense both on the current roster and in their prospect pool, making it easy for general manager (GM) Kent Hughes to depart with Romanov.
The Canadiens are still in the middle of the rebuilding process and aren’t expecting to compete this season. However, Dach is a more valuable young player to build around who also possesses a higher ceiling than Romanov. Adding Dach gives the team a young forward unit that is filled with multiple exciting players including Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield. The move sets up the Canadiens for a bright future but specifically, will give them a forward group with little to no weaknesses in it.
How the Blackhawks Benefit From the Deal
It’s still too soon to determine if the Blackhawks benefitted from trading away Dach, but they took advantage of the draft selections they received from their draft day moves. After trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for the seventh overall pick and using the selection to draft defenseman Kevin Korchinski, the Blackhawks used the 13th overall pick to select forward Frank Nazar.
Both Korchinski and Nazar have yet to make the NHL roster and will both take time to develop. However, the Blackhawks are entering a rebuild where they are tearing down the roster and essentially, starting from scratch. The hope for the team is that both Korchinski and Nazar will be a part of a long rebuild but also part of a young core of key players that help the team compete a few years down the road.
Ultimately, the trade can be one of the rare win-win-win trades in NHL history. Already, the Islanders and the Canadiens are seeing the benefits of the move, upgrading their rosters and filling specific needs with the additions of Romanov and Dach. In the end, all three teams involved might be better off because of the trades, especially considering the direction each of them is heading in.