2021 was such a bizarre year for Ryan Pulock. The point production wasn’t there but you could make the case that it was his strongest showing as a member of the New York Islanders at this point in his career.
In 56 games, he had just 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) which put him way off track for where he usually is as a point producer. It’s not like he didn’t have his chances either. He generated 121 shots on the season but shot at just 1.7%.
For reference, the three years prior he was at 6.1%, 5%, and 5.4% so this was a huge outlier season for him. While the surface-level production wasn’t there, the advanced numbers were very much so in Pulock’s favor.
He had a 51.2 CF%, 61.3 GF%, a 56.9 xG%, and a 61.6 HDCF% according to Natural Stat Trick. All of those numbers were career highs for him.
The top pair of Pelech and Pulock finally got the national recognition that they deserved this past season, so 2021 despite everything was a resounding success for Pulock.
The playoffs were much kinder to Pulock in terms of goal-scoring production. He had four goals (and two assists) in 19 games and his shooting percentage ballooned up to 13.8%. Three of his four goals were also game-winning goals.
His defining moment of the season was this unbelievable last-second save as time expired in Game 4 of the Tampa Bay series.
It was a pure reaction play and arguably, saved the Islanders season. The win evened up the series at two games apiece and if instead, this game went the other way in OT, a 3-1 series deficit likely would’ve been the final nail in their coffin.
Ryan Pulock expectations for 2021-2022
There is absolutely no way that Pulock shoots at just 1.7% again this year. Just like Anders Lee in 2019-2020 wasn’t going to repeat his power play performance, Pulock in 2021-2022 won’t repeat his S% again.
With a bounce-back in the goal department, expect Pulock to finish somewhere around 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) as the Islanders’ top-pair defenseman with Adam Pelech.
His shooting percentage will fall somewhere between five and six percent with his average amount of ice time increasing slightly up from 22:27 to 22:41.
Pulock will also have more responsibility on the power play and as a puck carrier with Nick Leddy in Detroit. His strong play again this season will help him land an eight-year $56 million ($7 million AAV) contract extension.