Defenseman Adam Pelech has signed an eight-year deal with the Islanders, the club announced Friday. An NHL source confirmed that the contract carries an average value of $5.75 million per season. According to the source, it does not include any signing bonus money and is all salary.
"Without a doubt, this is where I want to be,’’ Pelech, the Islanders’ first free-agent signing of the offseason, said from a golf course on his Zoom call with the media. "I couldn’t be happier with the term. And you know, I think all the guys here feel the same way. They know there’s something special going on here and everyone’s really excited to be a part of it moving forward.’’
Pelech, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, had been scheduled for an arbitration hearing this coming Wednesday. But he said he never expected it to get that far.
"We weren’t really worried about going to ‘arb,’ ’’ he said. "That date ended up creeping up on us a little bit, but I don’t think we were ever heading there.’’
Pelech, who will turn 27 on Aug. 16, is the left-side partner of Ryan Pulock on the Islanders’ top defensive pairing. The 6-3, 218-pounder, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, played all 56 games in the regular season and totaled four goals and 10 assists while matching up against opponents’ top lines. He had a goal and four assists in 19 playoff games. In his career, Pelech has 75 points (16 goals) in 303 games and 12 points (two goals) in 48 playoff games.
Several defensemen around the league signed bigger contracts this offseason. Chicago signed Seth Jones to an eight-year, $76 million deal after acquiring him from Columbus, and the Blue Jackets then locked up 24-year-old Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million deal. Cale Makar, 22, signed a six-year, $54 million contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche and the Devils signed unrestricted free agent Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract. On Friday, Edmonton signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million deal.
But Pelech said those deals had no impact on his own negotiations.
"I think at the end of the day, I wanted to be here for a long time, and I’m glad the team wanted me here,’’ he said. "And I think it was just about finding a number that worked for both sides. So those other deals really didn’t come into play at all for us.’’
What was more important, he said, was the Islanders keeping their group together to try and make another deep run in the playoffs.
The Islanders traded defenseman Nick Leddy to Detroit to clear some cap space and lost right wing Jordan Eberle in the expansion draft. But they are believed to have deals in place to bring back free-agent forwards Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas and Travis Zajac and also are thought to have an agreement with forward Zach Parise, who was bought out by the Minnesota Wild.
The team also has brought back defenseman Andy Greene on a one-year deal at a cap charge of $750,000, though that hasn’t been announced yet.
After signing Pelech, the team has approximately $11.9 million available under the salary cap, plus another $6 million that will become available when Johnny Boychuk goes on long term injured reserve. They still need to sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier and Ilya Sorokin.
"Without a doubt, a big emphasis on the offseason was to keep this group together as much as we could,’’ Pelech said. "And it’s really tough losing those two guys [Leddy and Eberle]. They’re great players and great teammates. But unfortunately, that’s just the business.
"You want to keep this group together,’’ Pelech said. "We’re a tight group and we know that together we can do something special.’’
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