What could be the opening numbers for the New York Islanders and Ryan Pulock leading up to Pulock’s arbitration case?
Ryan Pulock is scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Friday, November 6. According to the CBA (section 12.9 (b)), the New York Islanders and Ryan Pulock’s camp must submit their briefs to the arbitrator 48 hours ahead of the scheduled hearing.
That’s today, November 4.
So as we wait to see what comes of the process what could either side’s opening numbers be? What will Ryan Pulock ask to open up arbitration talks and what will the Islanders say he’s worth?
Let’s start off by what we know, Pulock is a number one right-handed blueliner who puts up good numbers on a defense-heavy team and plays a bunch of minutes. So, who are some comparable players out there with those qualities?
Here’s a list of right-handed defensemen who play at least 22 minutes thanks to CapFriendly. Pulock is nestled between Shea Weber and Drew Doughty in terms of points. They both play significantly more than Pulock (22:24 ATOI) does at 24:00 and 25:49 ATOI respectively.
Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s a righty, put up 34 points in 2019-20 and played 22:47 a night. He’s a close comparison with a $5.4 million cap hit, but that deal was signed back in 2016-17. Which puts a line in the sand to begin on what Pulock is worth.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Ryan Pulock is worth around $6 million in today’s economy. That’s a number that should be comfortable for both sides.
For Pulock that’s a $6 million cap hit is a 300% increase over his $2 million cap hit from last season. For the Islanders, it still gives them $2.905 million in cap space without including the 10% offseason buffer. Meaning, they technically have $11.055 million in cap space to sign Barzal. That’s more than enough to not only sign him but to ward off any offer sheet.
Arbitration is essentially a negotiation process. It’s just decided by a third party. So as with any negotiations process for a contract, Pulock will go high and the Islanders will go low in hopes of getting somewhere in the middle.
If the number both want to get to is somewhere around $6 million where do they open discussions?
Well if you look at that list of right-handed defenders who’ve player 22+ minutes a night, there are guys like Matt Dumba and Ryan Ellis who have $6.25 and $6 million cap hits respectively but make $7.7 and $7.4 million in salary each. Figure that Pulock’s ask peaks at somewhere around $7.5 million.
Again, this is to start off talks fully well expecting it to drop lower.
So if we just try to use the law of averages with Pulock going $1.5 over, the Islanders are going to be around $1.5 million below. Which puts them at a $4.5 million offer. Which fits when you consider John Klingberg and Charlie McAvoy (who are arguably better players) also made that list of right-handed blue liners that play 22+ minutes a night that I mentioned earlier and they carry a $4.25 and $4.98 million cap hit respectively.
If you think that’s a big gap (from $4.5 million to $7.5 million), remember that recently Ryan Strome asked for $5.7 million and the Rangers offered him $3.6 million.
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Hopefully, the Islanders and Pulock come in at numbers that are a bit closer together. The closer they are the more likely they come to an agreement rather than going through a contentious arbitration hearing.
It would be great if the two sides could avoid an arbitration hearing. Today we’ll likely get an idea where each side is in the negotiations and should give us a good sense of how the remainder of the Islanders offseason is going to go.