As the start of the season draws nearer for the New York Islanders, it’s time we begin to discuss expectations for every player, along with some other members of the organization.
Looking across the board, expectations for the Islanders this year are wide-ranging. As we conduct this exercise, we will outline both the ceiling and floor for each player this season and then set our expectations somewhere in the middle.
2022-23 was another solid year for Pulock. Twenty-six points with five goals, logging minutes on both the power play and penalty kill while playing in all 82 games during the regular season.
Entering his age-29 season, Pulock is the highest-paid defenseman on the team, making $6.15 million per year until his contract runs out in 2030. It seems we know exactly who Pulock is as a player at this point in his career, which may or may not be a good thing.
If there’s one word to describe Pulock, it’s reliable.
He has very few holes in his game and is easily the Islanders’ best two-way defenseman. Next to his longtime defense partner Adam Pelech, Pulock sets the example for an Islanders blueline on the rise.
Pulock should once again be a contributor in all aspects for the Islanders this upcoming season, as he’s just now entering his prime. However, as he does, one wonders how much more he has to give.
In a weird sense, Pulock’s floor is that he may have already hit his ceiling, as his stats have declined over the last few seasons.
His average ice time has decreased each of the last three years and hit its lowest last season since 2018. And even though his point production saw an uptick last year, it still wasn’t near his personal best.
While Pulock is still very far from a complete dropoff, it appears that he’s no longer progressing. He’s already the Islanders’ most versatile defenseman, but in the grand scheme of the entire NHL, he isn’t the top defenseman on a championship-caliber team, either.
As long as Pulock stays healthy, the 2023-24 season will be another respectable year for him.
Maybe we even see him take steps forward as Lane Lambert puts more of his imprint on the team in his second year as the Islanders’ head coach. However, it’s more likely the Islanders will ask Pulock to lead the charge once again while they place an emphasis on developing the younger defenseman on the roster in Noah Dobson, Alex Romanov, Samuel Bolduc and Sebastian Aho.
Pulock is still one of the Islanders’ best on the backend, but his time in that role may already be starting to count down.