There might not be a more important Islander than Adam Pelech. We saw during the 2019-2020 season what life could look like for the Islanders without him and it wasn’t pretty. What he’s been able to do the last three years is nothing short of remarkable.
Before Barry Trotz arrived, Pelech was a weird case study. Garth Snow decided to protect him in the 2017 expansion draft and at the time Pelly was just a seventh defenseman. He would become more of a regular the following year but he was just okay putting up 19 points playing in 78 games.
The glow-up happened in 2018-2019, just like the Islanders. For the past three years, Pelech has been one of the best defensive defensemen in the sport.
Pelech’s advanced numbers are excellent, as he sported a 58.44 GF%, 58.39 xG%, a 63.5 HDCF%, and a 65.31 HDGF% in 2021 according to Natural Stat Trick. He was on one of the best deals in the NHL too over this time as his cap hit was a low $1.6 million. Just insane value.
He cashed in this offseason, getting an eight-year deal at $5.75 million AAV and man did he deserve it. if you’re a young defenseman, I’d recommend watching this 38-minute montage of Pelech playing shutdown defense
2021-2022 Adam Pelech Expectations
With a career-high of 21 points, Adam Pelech is never going to be someone who lights it up on the scoresheet. The Islanders don’t need him to do that. Both he and Ryan Pulock will be the Islanders top pair and continue their dominance at shutting down opponents.
Adam Pelech will lead all Islanders defensemen in penalty kill time, and due to the bottom half of the unit getting weaker, he will see his time on ice increase. Last year, Pelech came in at 21:03 per night on average during the regular season.
This year, I expect his playoff average (23:18) to look closer to what he is getting on a nightly basis. He will finish the year with 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists). Both the goals and points would be a career-high for him as he starts off his new contract with a bang.
He likely won’t receive much Norris Trophy consideration, even though he should, but his impact on the Islanders will be palpable.