New York Islanders draftee Ryan Pulock will likely get a full season of NHL experience this year. At 21-years-old, he’s still young so how does this impact his development?
In 2013, the New York Islanders drafted Ryan Pulock 15th overall. Since, Pulock was returned to the Wheat Kings, the team he was drafted from, and played the last two seasons with the Isles’ AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
But with an injury to Calvin de Haan at the tail end of the season, Pulock was called up by the Isles to fill a hole on the blueline.
He played 15 games for the Islanders from the 28th of February to the end of the season on April 10th. Adding six games of playoff experience to boot. Over the course of his 16 game NHL experience last season, Pulock scored three goals and added four assists for seven points.
In-and-of-themselves these look like terrible numbers. But consider that Pulock averaged just under 16 minutes of ice time per game over the course of his short NHL career.
The goal for Pulock wasn’t to put up Erik Karlsson level points, but rather ease him into the level of play at the NHL. What does an NHL game feel like, what’s the difference between the AHL and the NHL. Pulock got to feel that.
With Marek Zidlicky and Brian Strait now off the books, there are a few spots to fill on the Isles blueline for next season. Enter Pulock. With those two bodies gone Pulock moves up the depth chart and into a position where he’ll see some serious ice time next season.
It remains to be seen how Capuano actually structures the defensive pairings, but it’s likely that Pulock takes third pairing duties with the likes of de Haan. Letting Pulock grow naturally into the grind of an 82 game NHL season.
Letting Pulock grow naturally into the grind of an 82 game NHL season. Grooming a defenseman takes more time than a forward. Generally, these players spend a number of years in the minors or within farm system before getting the nod for the senior club.
Pulock can only grow with this type of sheltered assignment. Facing a lesser quality of opponents. and being deployed in more favorable situations.
but it will also allow the team to see just what they have in Pulock. Capuano will certainly challenge Pulock. Putting him up against more difficult opponents from time-to-time and giving him power-play and short-handed assignments, to test his young blueliner.
At such a young age, the Islanders must see something they like, to give them confidence enough to Pulock a real shot. The question though is, is Pulock ready to take the next step in his development?