The New York Islanders got one of their two important free agents out of the way.
Ryan Pulock agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension on Wednesday five days before the Islanders and Pulock were scheduled to go in front of an arbitrator. The new deal carries an AAV of $5 million, according to Elliotte Friedman.
The new contract is a pay raise for Pulock, who is coming off a two-year, $4 million deal he signed in 2018.
“I’m really happy we could get the deal done,” Pulock said during a Zoom Call on Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously I’m really excited to be back for two more years. This team has come a long way and the future is bright. It’s exciting.”
The signing leaves the Islanders with a mere $3.9 million in cap space currently and leaves Mathew Barzal as the lone restricted free agent that still has yet to sign a new contract. A second buyout period begins on Friday that would allow the Islanders to shed some of the more bloated contracts of players that have AAVs of $4 million or more.
Last month, Devon Toews was traded to Colorado for a pair of draft picks in a move that was seen as a way to help free up some cap space. Toews had also filed for arbitration and the return for the young defenseman could serve as a sweetener for a trade that would involve a player like Johnny Boychuk or Andrew Ladd.
The flat salary cap has thrown a wrench into many offseason plans, none more so than for the Islanders. The current financial circumstances of the league and team were something that Ryan Pulock kept in mind, the defenseman said.
“Obviously we knew that’s an issue. That’s an issue for everyone on both sides, Pulock said. “From our standpoint, we just wanted to make something work that would work well for both us and the team. We’re really excited we were able to do that.”
Pulock has become a crucial part of the Islanders blue line over the past two years. The 26-year old defenseman logged an average of 22:24 of ice time per game this past season, which was the second consecutive year that Pulock has averaged more than 20 minutes a game.
Ryan Pulock had 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 68 regular-season games last season and added another 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in the playoffs.
The righ handed defenseman logged 22:42 of ice time during the postseason and found himself often timess facing off against the opposing team’s best players. The Islanders trip to the Eastern Conference Finals — their first since 1993 — gave Pulock a sense of confidence and pride in their defensive unit and overall team going forward.
“Us as a team starting last year expectations continue to grow,: Pulock said. We expect to be deep in the playoffs every season and the main goal is the Stanley Cup. We’re going to continue to push to get closer to that until we can achieve that. I think us a D-core it’s always been a collective job back there. Everyone steps up, everyone does their job, so I think the future is bright back there.
“I really look forward to being a big part of that.”
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