In 2020, the New York Islanders learned just how valuable Adam Pelech is for them. In 2021, he will also have a huge impact.
Pelech played just 38 games during the regular season as he was lost to an achilles injury that was sustained during warmups. In the 38 games he did play, the Isles were stellar going 25-10-3 with him in the lineup.
Without him, we saw a vast difference in play from the team. They went 10-13-7 in the other 30 games of the regular season. The team lucked out with the return to play starting back up in August because Pelech was able to return for the playoffs.
With him healthy, the team returned to their early-season form. One of the big reasons for the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Final was their stellar defensive play, especially at 5v5, which was very evident with Pelech – Pulock as the top pair.
Pelech isn’t someone who will put up a lot of points offensively, which is completely fine due to his importance defensively. Last year he had nine points (1 goal, 8 assists) and averaged over 21 minutes a night.
He will clearly get top-pair time again in 2021 and will likely see somewhere around 21:30 of ice time per game. I’ll say Pelech puts up 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in the shortened season which is paced out to an 18 point (3 goals, 15 assists) season.
Whenever an opposing team’s top line is ready to jump over the boards, Adam Pelech is likely waiting to be deployed by Barry Trotz. In the 2019 playoffs, we saw a perfect example of this with the Penguins top unit. He and the rest of the Islanders shut down their explosive top-six.
The Isles desperately need Pelech healthy for the entirety of the 2021 season. If he is, they can compete with any team. If not, well we saw how mediocre they can look.
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If he continues to play like he has over the past two years look for him to cash in on a contract extension next offseason. That one is going to be a very important one for the future of this team.