2. Adam Pelech Top D-man
When Adam Pelech wasn’t on the ice for Game 6 after a hand injury he picked up in Game 5 (that he played through), Islanders fans collectively held their breath for their team. We know just how important Pelech is to this club.
When on the ice, Pelech does an incredible job of clearing the slot and reducing the danger to his goal. There’s no better evidence of this than the unblocked shot rates for his 2019-20 season when on and off the ice.
When Pelech isn’t in the lineup, the Islanders struggle. After picking up a season-ending injury on January 2nd just before a date with the Devils, the Islanders went from one of the better teams in the league to technically dropping out of the playoffs.
With Pelech in the lineup in 2019-20, the Isles were 25-10-3 and had the fourth-best record in the league. Without him, the Isles slumped to a 10-13-7 record for the 26th best record (or sixth-worst record) in the league.
We were all surprised to see Garth Snow protected Pelech in the 2017 Vegas Expansion draft, but it’s clear Snow knew Pelech was going to be a good defenseman at some point. We saw that this year.
Adam Pelch is a vital part of the Islanders structure. He’s clearly going to get a significant raise on that $1.6 million AAV that is set to expire at the end of next season.