It sure is a good time to be a defenceman.
The New York Islanders locked down yet another one of their core blueliners on Wednesday night, agreeing to terms with Ryan Pulock on an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $6.2 million.
The deal, which will keep Pulock on Long Island until at least 2031, kicks in at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, as Pulock has one year remaining on his current contract at $5 million.
It’s hard to find any flaws in this deal. Locking in Pulock is what we in the business call a “no-brainer”.
The 27-year-old is a bonafide top-pair defender in the NHL, one who moves the puck at an elite rate while also proving equally capable of driving play at even strength and locking down the best his opponents have to offer. Simply put, Pulock is a perfect fit for the Islanders’ heavily defensive-leaning system.
And now, he’ll be a pillar of it for the next nine years.
Sure, Pulock’s offensive numbers took a bit of a step back last season, culminating in a mere 2 goals and 17 points in 56 games. But that dip is in large part thanks to a terrifically unlucky 1.7% shooting percentage that is well below his career norm and bound to bounce back to the norm in 2021-22. And that’s not even the focal point of his game.
Lower-than-average offensive production aside, Pulock still logged nearly 23 minutes per night against top competition to great results for a team that surged its way to its second-consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Final.
The financials of the deal even work in the Islanders’ favor, as well. With the likes of Cal Clutterbuck and Leo Komarov coming off the books at the end of the season, Pulock’s newly-established raise won’t hurt as much on the cap as it otherwise was expected to.
Frankly, this is a win on all fronts.
Which, it seems, should be expected from the back-to-back winner of GM of the Year.