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New York Islanders

Pelech Reaches 20-Assist Mark, Been a Force on Backend All Season

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New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech has never been known for lighting the lamp or racking up the assists. His skill set lies in shutting down the best of the best the NHL has to offer. But in the 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, Adam Pelech reached an offensive milestone, as he hit the 20-assist mark for the first time in his seven-year NHL career.

His 20th assist of the season was a thing of beauty, as he flipped the puck right to Brock Nelson to start an odd-man rush. And Nelson made no mistake with his shot placement.

“He’s got undercover skill that more people are starting to appreciate, his offensive game. I think everybody is aware of how good he is, defensively with his stick, but he is able to make little plays, good on the puck,” Nelson said. “On that one, just a nice play by him. Nice touch and flip to get that one to settle, and he’s a huge part of our offense when he’s going.”

Before this season, Adam Pelech had only had one 20-plus point season. That came back in 2018-19 when he had five goals (career-high) and 16 assists. This season Pelech has three goals and 20 assists, 19 of them coming at even strength.

“He’s not going to be you know, a guy that’s going to get you 50 to 60 points, but he’s going to be a probably a 20 to 25 point guy, playing his top pairing, shut down…He’s an elite penalty killer,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “So he’s an all-around defenseman and that’s what makes him so good.”

Adam Pelech’s defensive ability was the reason why he represented the New York Islanders at the 2022 NHL All-Star festivities in Vegas. Out of 82 defensemen who have played over 1,000 minutes this season, Adam Pelech is second in fewest goals against while on the ice at 33. In first place is teammate Noah Dobson, at 29.

We have seen time and time again this season, where Adam Pelech has shown off the offensive awareness, getting down low in the offensive zone or making plays at his blue line. But one of Pelech’s greatest assets is his timely decisions.

“He’s got a good skill set and as long as his decisions are good, and he supplements on the offense…You look, he’s one of the high plus-minus guys on our team. So I trust his decisions most nights. He’s very intelligent. He knows when he should go and when he shouldn’t,” Trotz said.  “And some nights if he makes a wrong decision, there’s not a whole lot you have to say to him. You’ll look down on the bench and he knows when he makes a mistake. He’s very self-aware, which is great for a pro especially as good as he is.”

Adam Pelech is first on the New York Islanders with a plus/- of +18 and also leads with 21:16 minutes played per game. His 20 assists puts him fifth on the Islanders and second amongst team defensemen. His 23 points puts him tied for ninth in team scoring.

The 27-year old defenseman is in the first year of an eight-year deal that carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million.