The Islanders and Ryan Pulock both win big with new deal

Rob Taub
Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The Islanders had one of their two huge off offseason dominos fall today.

The team and d-man Ryan Pulock agreed to a new two-year deal avoiding arbitration that was set to take place later this week. The news was first reported by Sportsnet’s Eliiotte Friedman.

Pulock’s deal will have him making $5M AAV.

“I’m obviously really excited to be back for two more years,” Pulock said on a conference call with reporters. “This team has come a long way and the future is bright.”

This transaction comes a few weeks after RFA Devon Toews was dealt from the team to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for two second-round picks. Now all that remains for g.m. Lou Lamoriello and Co. is to get a deal done with star forward Mathew Barzal, which could hopefully come before the start of the regular season.

But for the team and the 26-year-old Pulock, this contract comes out as a huge victory for both sides.

“From our standpoint, we just wanted to make something work.. really excited that we were able to do that,” Pulock said.

Looking at the Islanders’ point of view, they didn’t have to break the bank for one of their two top-pairing defenseman. Some of that can be contributed to the unknown of the COVID-19 restrictions that teams may still be facing in the very near future.

Still, the value the Isles are getting here is tremendous.

It allows them to keep one of their key core players at a very affordable price, let alone their most important offensive d-man. In addition, the Isles received some extra wiggle room to get their cap situation worked out.

Something to also keep in mind is by the time this contract ends, Pulock will still only be 28 — just entering his prime for a player in the NHL — and the Islanders will have had Johnny Boychuk Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov’s contracts all come off the books. This means the organization will most likely have the opportunity to get Pulock signed to a long-term deal as opposed to his previous deals, both of whom were bridge deals.

That last graf also plays into how Pulock is a big winner — he will get the chance to add even more to his value over the next two seasons, just in time for when the Isles can spend.

And things in a sense have already trended that direction from the player’s part.

Pulock has continued to get better defensively under head coach Barry Trotz and the structure he employs. His offensive production too has seen an uptick each season since he first joined the NHL four years ago. And it easy to tell he was going to be one of Lamoriello’s biggest priorities when the offseason began, and this agreement truly shows how much he meant to the success of the team. The Isles made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years and he played an instrumental role, leading the team in ice-time and tying for the most points (10) by a d-man with the aforementioned Toews.

You could say this is another chance for Pulock to prove himself to be worthy of elite status. He’s not on that level just yet, but has shown flashes of being in that conversation. He betting on himself again — as he’s done previously — could finally bring out that next level in his game.

Last, the deal personifies how much the organization likes Pulock and how much faith they have in him.

The Islanders could have easily let Pulock play out the final year of his previous deal or even traded him for the simple fact they are loaded on the backend and the possible haul they could have received in return. Clearly though, they believe the Dauphin, MB native is one of the pieces to their championship puzzle and he fits the mold of what they want from a number one/two blue liner.

That says a lot and could help in further negotiations down the line.

Getting Pulock re-upped was critical for the the Islanders in more ways than one.

He was one of the bigger priorities to be checked off, and now that it’s done, he and the team can revel in what was a fantastic move for both parties. Most of the time in contract talks between the player and the team, one is usually comes out looking stronger than the other.

But this time, the Islanders and Pulock were both on the winning sides of things.