The New York Islanders have their top defenceman locked up for another two seasons. On Wednesday morning, the club announced it had signed blueliner Ryan Pulock to a two-year, $10 million contract, avoiding potential salary arbitration, set to go Friday morning.
The 26-year-old’s new deal is broken down as $3.34 million in his first season, with $6.66 million coming in year two. Pulock will make $2.26 million in salary in his first year – paired with a $740K signing bonus – before taking home %5.16 million in salary in 2021-22 (on top of a $1.5 million signing bonus).
Now having played parts of five different seasons with the Islanders, the team’s 15th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has become a regular on the blueline, chipping in with his stellar defensive play, while contributing mightily on offence – most notably on the Islanders’ power play.
His year-end point totals have steadily increased, alongside the trust of his coach and fellow Parkland Region product, Barry Trotz. Pulock – who was born in Trotz’s hometown of Dauphin – was the team’s leader in time on ice in 2019-20, finishing the season with an average TOI stat of 22:43 per game. He also put up a career-high 10 goals, 35 points, and 14 penalty minutes in 68 games last year.
Over 234 career NHL contests, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound defender has collected 31 goals, 108 points, and 55 penalty minutes, while also contributing with a +27 overall plus/minus. In 36 playoff games, he has three goals, 14 points, and 10 penalty minutes.
Pulock’s first NHL contract came at the age of 18, where he signed an entry-level maximum of $925K, slowly collecting his due pay over the course of three seasons in and out of New York’s lineup. Bouncing between the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Island had the right-handed shooting defenceman earning his keep while learning the high-tempo game.
He transitioned to full-time NHL duty in 2017-18, where he began his NHL career with 10 goals and 32 points in just 68 games in New York, earning him a two-year deal with an annual average value of $2 million for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Now given a $3 million per season raise, the solid blueliner will surely look to step up his game even further for the 2020-21 calendar year – whenever it does get underway.
“My shot is something I use as a weapon,” Pulock earlier told Full Press. “Offence has never been a problem for me. I’ve always needed to spend more time focusing on the defensive side of things. The biggest thing for me right now is just my technique down low, finishing guys and stopping them low in our zone. For myself, I try to play an offensive role and get up the ice as much as I can, and if I continue to improve in putting those two together I think I should be alright.”
Having grown up in Grandview, Manitoba, Pulock spent significant time at the local rink – something he was encouraged to do by his father.
“As a kid my dad had me and my brothers at the rink as much as he could,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m not going to lie, but he had a little key that we could use to go in there whenever we want – whenever there was free ice. I spent a lot of hours there in the winter just shooting around and working on my skills. The part I remember the most was just how much fun I had doing all that.”
Ryan’s father, David, claims that it was all that extra time on the ice that turned the every day NHL defenceman into what he is now.
“We ran the kitchen at the community centre,” David Pulock said. “It just so happened the rink was almost always unoccupied, so Ryan and his brothers would be out on that ice all day long. Other times I would remember the opposing teams’ coaches say to me, ‘Can you please tell Ryan no slap-shots today? We want our goalie to last the full game this time.’ Ryan always responded well. He agreed every time and held the shot back.”
Although he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to show off his power in the annual NHL Skills Competition, the chance will surely be coming for one of the league’s hardest shooters. Following his time as captain of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, Pulock marched into the training camp with the Islanders in 2015 and won the club’s pre-season skills competition with a 105 MPH blast. That shot – alongside his defensive prowess and offensive skill – will certainly continue to work its way through the ranks throughout the duration of this new contract.