Ryan Pulock’s development as a rookie was one of the more promising aspects of the Islanders’ disappointing last season.
And the newly re-signed defenseman is one of the young building blocks new Islanders president Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz are counting on as they look to revitalize the franchise.
The 23-year-old restricted free agent, the 15th overall pick in 2013, agreed to a new, two-year deal on Tuesday. Financial terms were not available.
Pulock, coming off a three-year, $4.28-million entry-level deal, had received a qualifying offer of $874,125 but was not arbitration eligible. The two-year term is beneficial to the Islanders as Pulock will again be an RFA upon the deal’s expiration, albeit with arbitration rights.
Pulock had 10 goals and 22 assists in 68 games. But the organization had always known he could score — he compiled 15 goals and 31 assists in 55 for Bridgeport the previous season. So, it was Pulock’s improvement in his defensive play as the season progressed that was most promising.
If the right-shooting Pulock continues to improve his play away from the puck, he could very well earn a spot on the Islanders’ top defensive pairing.
Johnny Boychuk, 34, when healthy, has been a de facto top-pair defenseman on the right side for the Islanders with Nick Leddy.
Boychuk and Leddy remain on the roster and Lamoriello re-signed Thomas Hickey, who has been used in a top-four role, to a four-year, $10-million deal this offseason.
Right-shooting Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech also are back from last season, when the Islanders missed the playoffs for a second straight year while allowing an NHL-high 293 goals.
But steady — when healthy — Calvin de Haan signed a four-year, $18.2-million deal with the Hurricanes.
Pulock’s signing leaves the Islanders with just one unsigned RFA, center Brock Nelson, who has an arbitration hearing set for Aug. 3 after receiving a qualifying offer of $3.5 million.
On Monday, the Islanders agreed to a two-year, $1.4-million deal with RFA defenseman Devon Toews, 24, and a two-year, two-way deal with RFA defenseman Kyle Burroughs, 23, that carries an NHL salary cap hit of $675,000, as reported by CapFriendly.com.
Toews, Sebastian Aho, 22; Mitch Vande Sompel, 21; Parker Wotherspoon, 20; and Yannick Rathgeb, 22, are among the defensemen who could compete for a spot on the Islanders’ roster out of training camp.