The Islanders won’t be letting their top defenseman get to the UFA market next summer. Instead, they’ve agreed to terms with Ryan Pulock on an eight-year extension, reports TSN’s Darren Dreger (Twitter link). Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the contract will carry an average annual value of $6.15MM, which will represent a small raise on his current $5MM AAV but a decrease on his current $6.66MM salary.
The 27-year-old, a first-round pick of the Isles back in 2013 (15th overall), has worked his way up from the third pairing at the start of his career to New York’s top blueliner. He has logged over 22 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons and while his offensive production dipped last year (17 points in 56 games), he had three straight seasons of more than 30 points before that. He isn’t a prototypical number one defender although had he gotten to free agency in July, he likely would have had a shot at landing considerably more on the open market considering some of the deals that were handed out to impact rearguards last offseason.
While Pulock didn’t land top money with this deal, he did get some trade protection at least as Dreger adds (Twitter link) that the deal contains a full no-trade clause in the first five years plus a limited no-trade clause in the final three seasons.
Between this contract and the eight-year pact handed out to his partner Adam Pelech back in August, GM Lou Lamoriello has locked up his top pairing for around $12MM per season. Given that they are built as a defense-first team, having that stability at the top of their back end will certainly help to extend their competitive window from a salary cap perspective, especially knowing that top center Mathew Barzal is heading for a significant contract in 2023 when his bridge deal comes to an end.
But that’s a concern for another day. Once this contract is officially finalized, the core of their back end will be secure and their top pending UFA won’t be getting the opportunity to test the market next summer. That’s a pretty good piece of business for Lamoriello and the Islanders.
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