Adam Pelech was on a golf course Friday morning playing a round with his friends when news broke that he had agreed to a new contract with the Islanders. Pelech, a restricted free agent who had filed for arbitration, could finally relax and enjoy the day on the links.
And he also took some time to talk to reporters on a Zoom direct from the golf course!
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” said the Islanders defenseman of his eight-year deal worth $46 million with an average annual value of $5.75 million. “Relieved. Excited. A lot of emotions. It’s nice to be able to relax with my buddies and enjoy a round of golf.”
This past season, the 26-year-old Pelech helped the Islanders reach the NHL’s Final Four for a second straight year. During the regular season, he had four goals and ten assists for 14 points in 56 games and then added a goal and four assists for five points in 19 post-season games. He was second on the Islanders in total ice-time during the 2021 playoffs and ranked second on the team in total ice-time over the last three post-seasons which included nine rounds and 49 games.
Given the Islanders success over the last few seasons and what could lie ahead for this franchise, Pelech didn’t want to go elsewhere. He wanted to remain an Islander.
“I’m thrilled to be a New York Islander for eight more years,” said the Toronto native. “The negotiations were smooth, couldn’t be happier with the result. This is where I want to be. I couldn’t be happier with the term. I don’t think we were ever heading (to arbitration). Everything went smoothly and I’m just thrilled with the way it ended.”
Pelech was selected by the Islanders in the third round (65th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft and has established himself as one of the top defensemen in the entire league. Making up half of the Islanders’ top defensive pairing along with Ryan Pulock, Pelech has totaled 75 points during his NHL career on 16 goals and 59 assists to go along with 12 points on two goals and ten assists in 48 career playoff games.
The Islanders headed into the off-season with a lengthy to-do list as they tried to keep as much of the group that has enjoyed so much playoff success over the last few years together. Because of the flat salary cap, the Islanders traded defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings and they lost forward Jordan Eberle to the Seattle Kraken. From there, the Islanders turned their attention to re-signing their restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents and Pelech is the first signing that has been announced by the team.
Keeping as much of the core together has Pelech excited about the future.
“Without a doubt,” said Pelech. “A big emphasis on the off-season was to keep this group together as much as we could. It’s really tough losing (Leddy and Eberle). They’re great players and great teammates but unfortunately that’s just business. At the end of the day, if we can keep most of the team together, we’d be thrilled with that. You want to keep this group together. We’re a tight group and we know that together we can do something special.”
It’s believed that the Islanders have deals in place to bring back forwards Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. It’s also been reported that President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello has come to terms with free agent forward Zach Parise on a one-year deal. That leaves RFA’s Anthony Beauvillier and Ilya Sorokin as important pieces still to be re-signed as well as any trades that Lamoriello might make.
There is also the excitement about the Islanders’ new home UBS Arena at Belmont Park which will open next season with the home opener set for November 20th against the Calgary Flames.
“I think everyone is looking forward to that,” said Pelech. “I’ll definitely miss the (Nassau) Coliseum. There was something special about that but I think we’re all expecting it to carry right on to the new arena. We can’t wait to get in there and make that our new home.”
Islanders fans have been waiting patiently for news on signings and trades since the free agency period opened up on July 28th. With Adam Pelech locked up with a team-friendly deal, let the speculation begin as to what will happen next.