Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are having a good offseason.
The Islanders’ top-pair defensemen have watched other relatively comparable blue-liners agree to lucrative deals. That will only increase the value of the new deals both have coming.
Pelech is currently a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and one of president and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s top offseason priorities. Pulock will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
Saturday marked a fourth straight day since the free agent market opened on Wednesday that the Islanders maintained complete radio silence, leaving only connect-the-dots speculation as to what Lamoriello has planned or has already accomplished.
It’s believed Lamoriello has deals in place to re-sign UFA forward Kyle Palmieri and sign Zach Parise, likely to a low-risk, one-year deal after the Wild bought him out. It’s also quite likely Lamoriello has the framework of a deal to re-sign identity-setting center Casey Cizikas. None have been connected to any other team, odd this deep into free agency if they don’t already have deals with the Islanders.
UFA defenseman Andy Greene has already agreed to return on a one-year contract with a salary-cap charge of $725,000, though the Islanders have yet to announce that deal agreed to before the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft on July 21.
An NHL source this week confirmed the Islanders have registered Greene’s contract with the league, but no other contracts have been registered.
Some of the holdup may be Lamoriello’s desire to maintain as much cap flexibility for as long as possible.
The Islanders have $17.6 million in space available under the flat $81.5 million cap ceiling, per CapFriendly.com and Lamoriello is also prioritizing re-signing RFAs Anthony Beauvillier and goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Pelech, if signed to a long-term contract, will come away with the most lucrative deal.
Pelech, who turns 27 this month, is coming off a four-year, $6.4 million deal and his new deal could very well carry a cap charge between $6 million and $7 million. Some of the other deals signed by defensemen this offseason suggests it could go higher than that.
The Blue Jackets re-signed Zach Werenski, who just turned 24, to a six-year, $57.5 million extension. Cale Makar, 22, got a six-year, $54 million extension from the Avalanche. Chicago acquired Seth Jones, who turns 27 in October, from the Blue Jackets and signed him to an eight-year, $76 million deal. The Devils signed UFA Dougie Hamilton, 28, to a seven-year, $63 million deal.
All four produce more offensively than Pelech, who is a shutdown defenseman.
But Pelech’s specific value to the Islanders means he should be able to cash in on the rising market.
The same is true for Pulock, who has one season left on a two-year, $10 million deal and turns 27 in October. He would be a highly-coveted UFA.