The New York Islanders announced on Wednesday morning that they have avoided arbitration with top defenseman Ryan Pulock, agreeing to a two-year, $5 million deal.
Such a contract is a team-friendly deal for an Islanders team that is strapped for salary cap space, ensuring they kept their No. 1 blueliner after he further proved he is one of the top players in the NHL at his position.
The 26-year-old posted 10 goals and 25 assists for a career-high 35 points along with a plus-8 rating in 68 regular-season games during the shortened 2019-20 campaign. His heavy slapshot and two-way play helped provide a boost to the Islanders’ staunch defensive system while often quarterbacking a struggling power-play unit.
With Pulock’s agreement, the Islanders now have two of their top defenseman — along with Adam Pelech — making a combined $6.3 million. That’s an immense relief for a team that still has a lot of work to do this offseason.
The Islanders now have roughly $3.9 million in cap space remaining this offseason, which will be further addressed to re-sign restricted free-agent star center, Mathew Barzal, to an extended deal. Such limited financial leeway forced the team to part ways with young defenseman Devon Toews earlier this offseason, sending him to the Colorado Avalanche for a pair of second-round draft picks.
There is also the prospect of acquiring some more scoring help, which is vital for a team whose offense has constantly misfired over the last two seasons. In order for that to happen while re-signing Barzal, the Islanders have to shed more money.
A second buyout period begins on Friday, presenting the Islanders with a chance to address the bloated contracts of veterans like Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. Players with average annual salaries of $4 million or more can be bought out during this period.