The offseason has officially begun for the New York Islanders and so have the preparations for the 2021-22 season. I agree with Elliotte Friedman that those preparations begin with figuring out the Adam Pelech contract.
So what is that contract going to look like?
Here’s how I think it’s going to work out for Adam Pelech and the New York Islanders.
Predicting Adam Pelech’s extension with the New York Islanders
Like with any contract prediction the starting point is finding comparables. Who are some of the players that play a similar game to Adam Pelech, and what did they get?
Sounds easy enough, but unlike forwards, you can’t build Pelech’s comparable pool based on production. While Pelech certainly puts up points, that’s not the strength of his game. Which makes things a little bit more complicated.
But here’s what we know about Pelech’s play this year in a few key categories for defensemen:
*Data for defensemen that played at least 900 minutes of 5on5 time
Here are three players I’d consider “comparable” to Adam Pelech and how they did in each of the categories I laid out:
You’ll notice that these comparisons aren’t perfect. Pelech doesn’t play as many minutes and doesn’t score as many points (though he’s not far off), but when it comes to the advanced analytics neither of the comparables can consistently match Pelech. Pelech is worth more (in wins), consistently plays against top-tier opponents, and is very good at helping his team keep the puck out of the net.
But these players play a similar role for their teams and generally do it as well as Pelech. They’re also similar in age at 26 or just recently turned 27 in Slavin’s case.
So what does that mean for Adam Pelech? It means his AAV is easily in the $4-$6 million range. With the current economic climate in the NHL, it’s hard to see Pelech hit $6 million but that’s the ceiling. There’s also the whole “keep this team together” narrative that was a factor in the Barzal and Pulock negotiations last year.
Based on that range and economic factors in the NHL as well as that narrative around a team clearly in their window for a championship a four-year deal with a $4.5 million cap hit seems fair for both sides.
Pelech is wildly important for this team. The Islanders absolutely crater when he’s injured. Just look at how the 2019-20 season went. But they also can’t break the bank to retain him, even though he has arbitration rights and is a year from unrestricted free agency.
So yes, this deal is low in terms of the range I laid out. But the flat cap and the Islanders cap situation as well as how close they are to winning a cup brings that number down for me.
A $4.5 million deal makes him the third highest-paid defenseman on the squad (assuming Nick Leddy stays) which reflects his status on the team. A $4.5 million deal would chew up most of the Isles current $5.786 million cap space, but the Isles still have Boychuk’s $6 million on LTIR and they can still offload other contracts to make up the space needed to sign the rest of their RFAs and some of their UFAs.