The Montreal Canadiens have been busy on the first night of the 2022 NHL draft.
The Habs opened the proceedings by selecting Juraj Slafkovsky No. 1 overall. They followed that by sending Alexander Romanov and the No. 98 overall selection to the New York Islanders for the No. 13 pick. The Nos. 13 and 66 picks then went to the Chicago Blackhawks for Kirby Dach.
Not one, but TWO trades to announce 🤯<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/CanadiensMTL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CanadiensMTL</a> trade Alexander Romanov and pick No. 98 to the <a href="https://twitter.com/NYIslanders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NYIslanders</a> for the 13th overall pick... to then flip pick No. 13 and No. 66 to the <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLBlackhawks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLBlackhawks</a> for Kirby Dach! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLDraft?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLDraft</a> <a href="https://t.co/Arc58SxTAS">pic.twitter.com/Arc58SxTAS</a>
Montreal clearly wanted to strengthen its forward line heading into the draft.
Slafkovsky was a logical target. He scored five goals and assisted on five others in 31 Finnish Liiga games. He also had seven points during Slovakia's bronze-medal run in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Canadiens acquiring a 21-year-old center probably wasn't as expected, though.
Dach didn't perform well in 2021-22, finishing with nine goals, 17 assists and a minus-18 plus/minus rating. He's at least young enough to where Montreal could find some untapped potential.
John Lu @JohnLuTSNMtl
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Habs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Habs</a> Romanov is RFA this summer and Mtl loses a promising young defenceman but gain a 21-year-old, 6’4”, 197 lb right-shooting centreman in Kirby Dach. Kent Hughes said the team needed to add size and skill up front. Slafkovsky and Dach tick those boxes. <a href="https://twitter.com/TSN_Edge?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TSN_Edge</a>
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Dach was a long-term target for the franchise.
For Chicago, flipping Dach for picks comes on the heels of the Blackhawks sending Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for three selections, including No. 7 overall.
General manager Kyle Davidson seems to be willing to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. But unlike with DeBrincat, trading Dach will be an easier sell to the fanbase given how much his stock fell off last year.
Still, Thursday's moves foreshadow some tough times ahead in the Windy City.
In Romanov, the Islanders address a clear need.
Noah Dobson's 51 points were the third-most on the team and highest for a defenseman. Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock were the only other two defensemen to finish with at least 20 points.
Although Romanov has just 19 career points (four goals and 15 assists) through 133 games, he can help provide some of the attacking verve that was missing if he continues to progress.
The 22-year-old does present an immediate challenge to general manager Lou Lamoriello in the form of his impending restricted free agency. As a 10.2(c) player, though, re-signing him shouldn't come with too much difficulty.