Ryan Pulock’s blistering slap shot will remain on Long Island for at least two more years.
The Islanders avoided a Friday arbitration hearing with Pulock signing the defenseman on Wednesday to a two-year contract with a reported average annual value of $5.5 million per season.
“I haven’t been in this position before with arbitration,” said Pulock during a Zoom meeting with reporters on Wednesday. “In all maters with teams and players, you don’t want to get that far so I’m really happy that we could get the deal done. I’m really excited to be back for two more years. This team has come along way and the future is bright so it’s exciting.”
This past season, the 26-year old Pulock tallied 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in 68 regular season games and then added two goals and 2 goals and 8 assists for 10 points in 22 playoff games as the Islanders reached the NHL’s final four. The Islanders stormed through the Panthers, Capitals and Flyers in the Toronto bubble but fell to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning four games to two in the Eastern Conference Final. Pulock and the Islanders were just two wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final and six wins short of hoisting Lord Stanley.
The loss still hurts, but there is certainly excitement for the future.
“That run is special,” said Pulock. “Whenever you can get to a point like that, it takes a lot to get there. The team we had and just the type of guys in that room I think made it that much more special. A goal of ours was to win the Stanley Cup and getting that close…I still think about it and it still kind of bites you inside just how close we really were. Once you get a taste of that and you get that far, it kind of burns that fire that you want to get back there. (I’m) looking forward to next year and taking another run at it.”
Pulock was drafted by the Islanders in the first round (15th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. In 234 career regular season games, he has 31 goals and 77 assists for 108 points.
Now that Pulock is signed, the Islanders have one significant restricted free agent left to wrap up and that is forward Mat Barzal. With about $3.9 million of cap space remaining and a second buyout window that is set to begin on Friday, getting Pulock under contract could be the start of a busy few days for the Islanders as they try to construct their roster for the 2020-21 season. There have been reports of the Islanders trying to trade defenseman Johnny Boychuck in order to create more cap room that would allow the Isles to go after a free agent forward like Florida’s Mike Hoffman or perhaps make a trade for a forward like Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine.