Cizikas’ “Die an Islander” quote another example of how far Islanders have come

“I’m going to die an Islander, that’s how you can put it.”

Those were the words of Casey Cizikas yesterday as he spoke to the media following the announcement of his new six-year contract with the Islanders.

Wednesday was a big day for the Isles and g.m. Lou Lamoriello with Cizikas being among four players the team announced new contracts for. The others were forwards Anthony Beauvillier, Kyle Palmieri and goalie Ilya Sorokin. Zach Parise also confirmed he was signed, but that his contract had not been filed.

All four players’ deals had been rumored to have been done for weeks despite how quiet the offseason has been for the organization. It’s been no secret that Lamoriello and his cohorts did everything in their power to not show their hand as this summer progressed especially with the tumultuous cap situation the Isles were dealing with. Now that everything is official, many can take a deep breath.

Each deal completed two objectives that Lamoriello had to this summer: 1. Keep most of the band together that has gone to the third round in consecutive years. 2. Add players to a core that has Stanley Cup aspirations.

“We have a lot of unfinished business,” said Cizikas. “We know we have more, we know we can go further and ultimately we want to do this with the same group. It’s not always easy keeping everybody, but Lou did a really good job of bringing back as many of us as possible.”

That first statement from the Cizikas though, “die an Islander”, was what really stuck out the most from all the days’ festivities. It made the rounds on social media quickly and immediately made its way onto a t-shirt (shocking right?). But truthfully, those aren’t the kind of things people are used to hearing when talking about the Isles. Except now they should.

Rarely do you hear such a remark from players, especially with the kind of turnover that happens in the NHL year after year. But it just proves again how far the Islanders have come and how much chemistry and family have become the sole priority when it comes to the franchise.

In years past, there were guys who said “I’d rather die than play for the Islanders” (that’s a true statement by the way). Now you have a guy saying the the exact opposite, that he wouldn’t want to play or be in any other situation. And sure the Islanders have been all Cizikas has ever known since he was drafted by the organization back in 2009, but saying what he said translates beyond him being a part of the team.

Players don’t just want to come here, they want to stay here. People outside of mostly Islander fans don’t understand the magnitude in how much that one small element means. Cizikas, as reported, could have taken more money to go elsewhere. He didn’t. He had his choice of suitors. He decided to stay on Long Island. Cizikas sees how special a team the Islanders are and everything that comes with it.

The fourth-line center and heart and soul of the club is going to retire in blue and orange. Matter of fact, Cizikas is going to die for his teammates, the fans, the crest on the jersey.

That’s why the Isles are different now. Because of what Cizikas said and the mentality that comes with representing this franchise.

Islanders “family business” all finally settled in one fell swoop

The summer has been slow and quiet for the Islanders. But when there’s been any news, it’s always been loud and reverberated the notion that their general manager Lou Lamoriello is on another level.

Lamoriello was at it again, continuing to put on a masterclass, after settling all the “family business” this morning with the announced signings of Casey Cizikas, Anthony Beauvillier, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.

Cizikas’ contract is six years at $2.5M AAV per year. Beauvillier’s is a three-year agreement worth $12.3M. Sorokin’s deal is three years worth $12M. And Palmieri’s is four years, $5M AAV.

Each deal comes with excellent value and was done with the future of the organization particularly in mind. Cizikas’s cap hit comes in $1M lower than his previous deal from 2017, plus the Isles keep the player considered the heart and soul of the team with how he plays during the window they have to win.

“I’m going to die an Islander,” Cizikas told the media. “That’s how you can put it.”

What’s more encouraging is the latter years of Cizikas’ contract, the Isles will have more flexibility with the league’s projected salary cap expected to be much higher than it is now.

Beauvillier’s latest contract takes away a year of him being an unrestricted free agent, as The Athletic’s Arthur Staple pointed out. It’s also a solid compromise between the team and player, as Beauvillier was looking for close to $4.5M while the Isles were more inclined to offer more term.

By the time Beauvillier’s contract is set to expire, he’ll be 27. This means the Quebec native wouldn’t have even reached the prime years of his career yet. If Beauvillier turns into the consistent offensive performer many are hoping through the duration of the contract, that hit will look even more in the Islanders’ favor.

Sorokin and Palmieri’s commitments both come at a very fair price as well and put them in a spot to live up or exceed what they are being paid. Just like Beauvillier, the Russian goaltender’s deal will take him up till age 29, where he will be entering his prime and will most likely be the presumed franchise goalie. Sorokin shared the net with fellow countrymen Semyon Varlamov in his rookie year last season and was solid. He is only expected to get better in 2021-22 and not long thereafter take the starter role from Varlamov. The latter’s deal with the organization ends in two years.

Palmieri is projected to be on Mathew Barzal’s wing this season and does have potential to be a solid scoring threat. He showed in the postseason how impactful of a player he can be when the games matter. “The goal of our team is no secret, We want to win a Stanley Cup,” said Palmieri.

With today’s barrage of signings and the Adam Pelech extension a month ago, the Islanders are now near completion from a roster standpoint now with these transactions complete. All that’s left is the formal announcement and contract of forward Zach Parise (a deal has been in place for sometime now) and the possibility of another d-man with Nick Leddy traded to Detroit prior to the expansion draft. That could also be coming soon.

Now, if Lamoriello is able to get those two tasks done the same way he was able to navigate the difficult waters this offseason, Islander fans will be very happy. That said, they should be ectastic about the developments from today. All the business that needed to get done is. The pieces that need to be in place for another run towards a Stanley Cup are here for the long haul.

 

The Islanders seem like the team to bet on this year based on their odds

With the month of September beginning tomorrow, hockey season is getting closer and closer. That means it’s also time for those in the betting community to start making their decisions on which teams are worthy of wagering on.

Looking at the updated odds, it’s clear the Islanders are one of those squads that could be a very solid bet in regards to where the oddsmakers see them in their own division, conference, and the league.

According to vegasinsider.comthe Isles are +2000 to win the Stanley Cup in 2022. Not a bad bet.

Note*: the list of odds was updated on August 29th and are subject to change.

It’s surprising that those odds aren’t lowered after the team’s back-to-back appearances in the third round, and that they are getting back a healthy Anders Lee and have the arguably the best goaltending duo in the league. Even more questionable is the few clubs in front of them — the Penguins, Panthers and Maple Leafs (shocking right) — have all failed to establish anything outside of regular season success.

In reality, the bookmakers — just like the rest of the hockey world — still might be waiting to see what other moves g.m. Lou Lamoriello has up his sleeve before the season begins. That would certainly warrant the Isles moving up a spot or two.

Lamoriello has only announced the signing of d-man Adam Pelech, which was now a month ago. They are still other deals to be announced. Plus the Isles are still believed to be in the mix for Blues’ forward Vladimir Tarasenko from a recent report from The Athletic.

As things pertain to the Eastern Conference, bettors have them at +1000 to win it. Again, a reasonable handicap, but one that leaves much to be desired.

The +1000 for them to win the East could be seen as an insult to some after they defeated the Bruins — given the second best odds — and Pens (4th best odds) in the playoffs in the first two rounds last summer. But that’s just another motive to put down a big bet on them. The Isles have truly established themselves as one of a consistent threat over the last few years and don’t seem to be looking at a serious drop off anytime soon.

Now we get to probably the best odds for the Isles: the Metro.

The Islanders are considered a +425 to win their division. Only ahead of them are Carolina and the Penguins.

I’m not sure what the love affair is with Vegas and Sidney Crosby and Co., but the Islanders are definitely better going into this year in all three phases (offense, defense, goaltending) than their Pennslyvania counterparts. And sure the Pens are considered the division champs — they were the top dog in the MassMutual East Division — but only six point separated first place to fourth. And who was that fourth place team? the Isles.

The Hurricanes on the other hand are inching closer and closer to being a legit Cup contender, and they and the Islanders are kind of a mirror image of each other. They won their division during the realigned format. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour’s group also might be the most talented team in the class of the Metro, seeing they are considered the favorite.

So, the Metro is really their’s to lose. The Islanders feel like the club that could challenge them for it. And remember this: the Isles have been in first place in said division — last year too — at several points during the year. In the end though, they always conceeded it.

If there was ever a change in that trend, it’s this year.

The odds might be in the Islanders favor for 2021-22. Throwing down some money on them seems like a smart thing to do.

 

 

Islanders’ front office named one of the best in the NHL

The shift over the past three years with the Islanders has been one word: dramatic.

Both on and off the ice, the Isles have become a model for stability and success. Players want to come and play on Long Island now, a brand new building — UBS Arena — will be the franchise’s home this season, and the team has made it three straight years of playoffs with two consecutive third-round appearances in 2020 and 2021.

The organization’s transformation under the Lou Lamoriello-Barry Trotz regime still has a few doubters (frankly I don’t know why), but they might not have much of an argument anymore after The Athletic released its 2021 NHL front office rankings yesterday.

The Islanders, according to the survey done by the fans, place 5th among the entire league. The only teams ahead of them are Tampa Bay, Colorado, Detroit (the most shocking of the clubs ranked in my opinion), and Florida (another wow candidate).

In every category listed — roster building, cap management, draft and development, trading, free agency and vision — the Isles saw slight increases, particularly from the fan base perspective. “From the ownership group to Lou and Barry, this team has completely rebranded themselves,” was one fan’s comment. The dumpster fire that was has been extinguished and rebuilt into a competitive, engaging organization. Proud, once again, to be an Isles fan!”

Seeing those numbers is a huge jump up from the previous two years where the Islanders ranked — 16th in 2020 and 23rd in 2019. Becoming a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the short amount of time they have probably helped too.

“The Islanders have become an organization to envy,” stated the site’s analytical wiz Dom Luszczyszyn, “where the magic is real from a full team buy-in and that starts from the top down.” “The vision may be a little different from what other teams are selling, but it’s become impossible not to buy into it.”

Even with how ultra quiet this summer has been for the Islanders, they continue to make tremendous strides. This latest development is just more proof. Credit to Lamoriello, his staff and Trotz for the remarkable work they have done to truly make the Islanders a top franchise once again.

It wasn’t long ago the Isles were lost cause and had no direction, but my how times have changed. They now stand as one of the elite clubs in the NHL and so does their front office.

While we still wait for any news from Lamoriello and Co., some Islander players are already back on Long Island.

At his annual Matt Martin summer hockey camp, Mathew Barzal and Kyle Palmieri — who is still unsigned despite numerous reports he will be back in an Islander uniform — participated in the festivities. There was even a rumor that floated on social media Palmieri was seen clean shaven while working with the kids.

Use your imagination with that little tidbit.

Brock Nelson’s rampage this summer in his home state’s DaBeauty League came to an end last night in sad but excellent fashion.

Nelson’s squad, Team Walser, lost in the championship game 10-9 despite him recording a hat trick. His final stat line from the league was 23 goals and 39 points in 10 games.

Ex-Islander Mikhail Grabovski to coach Belarus at 2022 Winter Games

It’s been two years since Mikhail Grabovski called it a career, but the former Islander is now getting a very special honor after transitioning to coaching following his post-playing days.

On his Instagram yesterday, Grabovski confirmed he is now a part of the coaching staff of the Belarusian squad that will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing next February.

Grabovski, who was actually born in Potsdam, Germany, grew up in the country he’ll be representing. He and his family moved to Belarus when he was three, so this chance to coach really makes things come full circle.

This will be Grabovski’s first opportunity behind the bench at the international level. He’s been an assisstant with HC Dinamo Minsk of the KHL for the past two years after annoucing his retirement from playing in June 2019. (By the way, if you haven’t seen Grabovski’s retirement video, I highly recommend checking it out. Great stuff.)

As a player, Grabovski spent his junior years in Belarus suiting up for HC Yunost Minsk, the legendary squad of the Belarusian ExtraLeague. The 37-year-old had played in international competition for Belarus seven times, including the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Grabovski also won two gold medals for his country at 2004 World Juniors and 2005 IIHF World Championships.

The Belarus legend still holds a soft spot in the hearts of Islanders fans too. Grabovski played a small role in the organization’s resurgence during the middle part of the last decade. Brought to Long Island during the now memorable “Summer of Garth” — the offseason in prior to the 2014-15 season — he, Nikolay Kulemin, Jaroslav Halak, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk all became Islanders, instantly adding credibiliy and resulting in a playoff berth for the first time since 2012-13.

His time on the Island was disappointing and didn’t produce nearly the results many expected due to injuries. Grabovski only appeared in 58 games over two years and recorded 44 points. But Grabovski was always remembered as a great character, which fans gravitated too.

Seeing how things ended with the Islanders, “Grabo” getting this shot now to coach on the Olympic stage is awesome. Isles fans will no doubt be rooting for him.

 

Islanders players pay tribute to the late Jimmy Hayes

The hockey world was hit hard over the past few days with the deaths of three junior players, Rangers legend Rod Gilbert and the sudden passing of Jimmy Hayes.

Hayes, 31, was suddenly found dead inside his Milton, Mass. home yesterday just mere hours after celebrating his son Beau’s 2nd birthday on Sunday.

The news of Hayes’ death sent shockwaves around the sport.

“The NHL family mourns the passing of Jimmy Hayes, who appeared in over 300 games with the Blackhawks, Panthers, Devils and his hometown Bruins,” the NHL said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Several Islanders who knew Hayes or were teammates of him shared their memories of him via social media.

“One of the best teammates you could Ask for,” Islanders’ forward Austin Czarnik tweeted moments after the news came out. Czarnik and Hayes were on the same Bruins squad together for the 2016-17 season. “Truly a great person and friend. Was a pleasure to get to know Jimmy and play with him. Prayers to the Hayes family.”

Travis Zajac, who was a teammate with Hayes for his one season in New Jersey back in 2017-18 posted a picture of he and Hayes and teammate Kyle Palmieri with the caption, “Great teammate, better person. RIP Jimmy”.

Oliver Wahlstrom, a Boston native — the place for which Hayes was considered a legend in the area for having been from Dorchester and gone on to win a national championship at Boston College — shared his thoughts via his Instagram.

“One of the best guys ever,” Wahlstrom wrote. “RIP Jimmy ❤️❤️❤️”.

A line of Parise-Pageau-Wahlstrom could be dynamite for Islanders this season

As we continue to sift through the dog days of August before talk of training camp begins, things continue to remain extremely quiet on the Islanders’ front. But that doesn’t mean it’s never a bad thing to look ahead.

I wrote earlier this week Zach Parise is primed to have a bounce-back season wherever he’s suiting up. It’s all but confirmed he will be an Islander, despite the team still not providing any formal announcement. Once the Isles do make his signing official, things will shift to where he’s used by head coach Barry Trotz in the lineup.

Several projections have Parise slotting in on the third line as the Isles’ top-six, barring another trade or signing, looks all but set with Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Palmieri (also re-signed), Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier. If that is indeed the role he’s given, Parise will most likely be linemates along with J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Having those three on a line together has the chance to add a big boost to the Islanders’ attack.

Pageau is coming into this year fully healthy after he suffered an injury in the playoffs. He was a force for the Islanders before a broken hand compromised his ability to contribute. Wahlstrom will too be back on the mend after suffering a setback in the Penguins series that kept him out the rest of the postseason. This will be his second season after a solid rookie campaign where he tallied 21 points in 44 games. He is expected to be a full-time regular and one of the Islanders’ more prominent scoring threats with Jordan Eberle departing for Seattle. Parise, as stated already, is motivated to find his game again after having the last four years of his contract bought out by his hometown Minnesota Wild.

Wahlstrom and Pageau already have chemistry going back to last season when the freshman forward was inserted next to the Ottawa native during the Isles’ hot streak in March. They meshed really well together and gave the Islanders a solid one-two punch outside their top-nine. There was an even stronger connection in the postseason before Wahlstrom went down. And they like each other.

“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said about Wahlstrom during the year. “He’s doing the right things and paying attention to all the details and that’s how you get better… He’s doing everything possible to be apart of this team.”

“My guy. He’s just awesome,” was how Wahlstrom described Pageau. “He’s a guy I really look up to and I love being around him.”

The addition of Parise though adds another intriguing factor. He will bring some much-needed offense to a line usually considered the checking line. Everyone can point to his disappointing campaign last year — 18 points in 45 games — but he’s still a capable contributor.

Prior to last year, Parise combined for 53 goals from 2018 to 2020.

What also should be acknowledged: Wahlstrom will also have the opportunity to learn from one of the best veterans in the league.

Pageau is a great mentor to have, but Parise held the captaincy during his tenure in New Jersey, where ironically he was under the watch of current Islanders boss Lou Lamoriello. He was also an assistant for many years with the Wild. That kind of experience will be vital for Wahlstrom, who is still has a ton of room to grow.

As a whole, the Pageau-Wahlstrom-Parise trio has all the makings of a very being very effective if formed. Each player brings something different to the table.

The Islanders offense is expected to be better from previous years, and these three can be a big part of it.

 

 

 

 

Ads coming to NHL, Islanders jerseys in 2022-23

It’s a new era for the game of hockey.

Yesterday it was announced that the NHL will have ads on teams’ jerseys starting in the 2022-23 season.

According to Sportico.com, a memo was sent out to all 32 teams this week after the league’s board of governors unanimously voted in approval of the ad policy.

The decision to allow advertisements on uniforms is a continuation of the rule the league instituted last year, which, saw teams be allowed to wear a brand/organization on their helmets to recover revenue lost amid the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

To be honest, this is a very big deal for the sport. Uniforms — especially those in the NHL — having ads postered on them has been years in the making and a hot topic for a number of years among fans and pundits. Many have regarded hockey sweaters as sacred and one that should never be touched. But with how the world of sports is changing, ads on jerseys seemed inevitable.

Soccer has always had some form of brand/organization on its clubs’ uniforms. The NBA started permitting ads to be featured on their teams jerseys four years ago; they also made a rule allowing ad space on practice jerseys as recently as two years ago.  Hockey, on the other hand, hasn’t caught up until now. It’s a weird dynamic to be honest, knowing a majority of the league’s in Europe allow a multitude of ads to be smattered all over the jerseys of teams.

So now that we know ads will be prominently promoted, who might the Islanders partner with?

The obvious choice would be UBS. The team’s brand new building — set to open in November — has the UBS brand attached to it after it was awarded naming rights last summer. The Islanders also wore UBS on their helmets as a part of their road uniforms.

Northwell Health too seems like they could be chosen. They were also part of the helmet partnership, with the Isles wearing their ad for home games in 2020-21. The organization had strong ties to the Islanders for a while now, dating back to when the practice facility was named after them in 2016. Northwell Health has also been a staple on Long Island for close to 25 years, so it would appeal to the locals.

Some others that could be picked, who are more known from a national perspective, are Betway, Geico, Enterprise and Ticketmaster. The Isles’ site says they also have a corporate sponsorship with Jagermeister and Coors Light, but you would think there could be some backlash if one of those two were stamped on the team’s jerseys.

Now, if the Islanders were to really go for some real Long Island flavor, it would be a treat if they decided on BlueLine Deli and Bagels, Yes Men Outfitters or Oyster Bay Brewing Company.

The Islanders have always been about community, and these three organizations in particular scream that.

Blue Line has a cult-like following and is a staple among fans of the fan base since its opened a few years ago. They already have color scheme down with blue and orange which is an extra bonus. If not that, they’ve ascended to the brand people identify the Isles with from all parts of the Island. As for Yes Men, they’ve become one of the most popular clothing brands for all things Islanders. Oyster Bay created the “Barn Rocker” several years ago as an ode to the franchise and its now former home, Nassau Coliseum.

However the Islanders decide, ads on their jersey hopefully will be accepted by the fan base. It will definitely be something new.

 

 

 

 

Islanders will be getting a re-energized Zach Parise this season

We’re still waiting for the Islanders to announce several other key signings this offseason, including Zach Parise.

It’s all but confirmed that Parise, 36, will be donning an Isles sweater when training camp opens next month. Several reports on the first day of free agency last month had the free agent forward signing with the Islanders on a short-term deal.

The prospect of Parise coming to Long Island has Islander fans excited. For him, he is also anticipating this being a big year in 2021-22.

“I haven’t been this excited heading into a season in a while,” Parise told NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce last night after participating in his state’s summer hockey league, DaBeauty League, for the first time this summer while also not acknowledging who will be playing for. “I’ve been here for a long time and sometimes a change of scenery is good.”

 

Parise is coming off a trying year with his hometown Minnesota Wild, which led to the organization buying out the rest of his contract. He and d-man Ryan Suter, whom the Isles had interest in but ended up taking a deal in Dallas, had four years remaining on their identical 13-year contracts they both agreed to with the Wild back in 2012.

The shock of being bought out stuck with Parise in the days that followed, but as he acknowledged to Pierce things got “really good” shortly thereafter.  Note: Reading between the lines from that statement, it probably indicates Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoirello — the person who drafted him to New Jersey back in 2003 — quickly reached out to him to Parise to talk about him playing for the organization this coming season. TSN’s Bob McKenzie did note that Parise vistied Long Island in the days prior to free agency opening.

Parise feeling that way though should be a good sign for the Islanders and their supporters that they aren’t just getting a motivated player, but a re-energized one as well. He is expected to be a sizable upgrade to the team’s bottom-six and add another weapon to the power play. Beyond that, the Islanders are hoping he is one of the last remaining pieces to a championship puzzle after falling in the third round the past two postseasons. The 16-year veteran has long been coveted by Lamoriello for a couple years now, and came close to joining the team at the trade deadline two years ago before the trade never fell through.

With the Islanders expected to be good again this year, getting an enthused Zach Parise into the fold could pay big dividends. He sounds like he wants to make an immediate impact, which, should also be music to fans’ ears.

 

Where do the Islanders’ Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock rank among elite defensive duos?

It’s been a week now since the Islanders announced they had signed d-man Adam Pelech to a long-term deal. Pelech, who will be in blue and orange for the next eight seasons, is now being paid like a top-flight defender.

With that transaction, the Isles now have a top duo of he and Ryan Pulock making the kind of salary you’d expect guys in that category to make. Pulock is set to make $5M this upcoming season and will be getting another significant raise next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Now, there’s a reason Pelech and Pulock got paid — they are damn good at their jobs individually. As a pair, they have developed into one of the best in the league. To be in that echelon is no fluke either. Only a handful of teams have one stud blueliner on their team, let alone two. The Islanders are lucky to have such a luxury.

But where do they size up among the elite, elite? Based on the numbers, pretty darn high.

Per Natural Stat Trick, the duo last season ranked 9th in Shot attempt percentage at 53.4%, 7th in Shot attempts against/60 minutes at 48.1%, had the ninth-best goal differential, 12th in goals against per/60 minutes, were number one in Scoring chance differential, High-danger scoring chance differential and Expected goal differential. They also ranked third respectively n High-danger scoring chances against/60 minutes and second in Expected goals against/60 minutes.

Mind you these are all stats based on over 40-plus defensive pairings that skated over 400 minutes together at even strength in the regular season. Still, some of those stats are staggering and prove they are absolute force when they are on the ice.

“[Pelech and Pulock] can contribute offensively and can defend as well as any two guys in the league and have an effect on the overall game,” head coach Barry Trotz said back during the playoffs. “So this is a normal development of two really smart young players and giving the confidence and showing them the ice for them to have a big effect on a game.”

No disrepsect to Trotz, but the offense is the one element truly missing from Pelech and Pulock soldifying their spot as the top tandem. Neither d-man are offensive dynamos ala the Bruins’ Charilie McAvoy or even the duet of Colorado’s Cale Makar-Devon Toews (a former Islander). The two only combined this season for 31 points during the regular season. Pulock in particular really struggled to produce offensively only finding the back of the net twice.

It’s not to say that part of their game can’t take another step this upcoming season. It can most certainly be done, and might have to be with the departure of Nick Leddy, who was the team’s best offensive d-man last year and for a number of seasons. If that happens, Pelech and Pulock will be looked at in a whole new light.

But you always have to factor in the defense-first mentality. That’s the Isles’ bread and butter. And as Pelech noted after getting his deal, defending is priority number one.

“It’s great if I can contribute,” he said…”but at the end of the day, I’m a defensive player and I think it pays dividends to stick within your own game and do what you know makes you successful and the team successful. “I don’t think there’s going to be any reason to force anything with a new contract or anything, I just think it’s just staying within yourself, play your game and do what’s best for the team.”

Pelech and Pulock have done a tremendous job at upping their game over the past few years. They have entered elite status despite some of the parts of their game still needing growth. They rank pretty high now, and who knows, sooner rather than later they might very well be considered the best.