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Adam Pelech’s Deal with New York Islanders a Golden One for Both Sides

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Adam Pelech speaks to the media

Earlier Monday, the New York Islanders officially announced the signing of defenseman Adam Pelech to an eight-year contract extension worth a $5.75 million AAV. Pelech, who has become a premier defender in the NHL over the last few years, is the biggest key to the Islanders’ continued success, and locking him up long-term ensures that defense will prevail on the island for years to come. 

Pelech’s ability to shine in the NHL spotlight will be limited due to his focus on defense rather than the offensive side of his game. Yet the old saying “defense wins championships” still remains a truth.

It’s a reason why Pelech will never win a Norris Trophy at the NHL level, but if there was an award for best defensive defenseman, that would be one he surely gets votes for. 

During the 2019-20 campaign, it became abundantly clear the importance of Pelech on both sides of the puck. When he went down with a “season-ending” Achilles injury, the Islanders did not just see their defense struggle to keep pucks out of the net, they saw the offense also drop in production. Pelech is not an offensive juggernaut by any means, but he makes critical plays in transition and at the blue line to create chances for his teammates in the offensive zone. 

It is also worth mentioning that Pelech is only 26-years old, and it is fair to say he has not even entered his prime yet. 

About the contract, the Islanders started this offseason cap-strapped. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello worked his magic to create salary-cap space to re-sign his unrestricted and restricted free agents. But the first domino that needed to fall before the other contracts did was Pelech’s. He was the top priority and figuring out his contract opens the doors to the availability of finances for others. With the way Lamoriello operates, those other deals are more than likely already done and just waiting to be officially filed.

Now, Pelech did file for arbitration, with his hearing scheduled for August 12. While that may have been a formality, there was no doubt that Pelech would be back with the Islanders this upcoming season. But for a player of his skill set, he had reason to ask for a pay raise. 

While he did get a pay raise, with his last contract being $1.6 million annually, the expectation that this new deal could come in over $6-$6.5 million would not have been a shock at all. The shock was that it came in under $6 million. 

Although contracts do not show their true worth until they are completed, this could be one that becomes one of the best the Islanders have ever signed.

The Islanders now have $11.2 million in cap space to sign their key free agents, including the ability to bring in a few more pieces to bolster the club. 

It’s a new age on the island, with players taking hometown deals to remain with the club. Success over the last few seasons and trust in the organization has led to these deals and it is a bright sign when a top-flight player plays along with the recent narrative.

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