We know Pulock's quality as a defenseman. His defensive game is as solid as any blueliner's in the NHL. But what makes Pulock stand out as a top-pair guy is his ability to pair solid production with that defensive game.
Through Pulock's first 22 games of the year, he put up five points, all helpers. I was less concerned with his assists than I was his goal-scoring. His goal scoring had totally dried up over the last season+. Through his previous 69 games before my February post, Pulock had two goals to his name. Could he show he can score at a ~10-goal pace through the rest of the 21-22 season?
What he did
Over the next 34 games, Pulock scored five goals (and 16 points). That's a 0.147 goal-per-game pace for Ryan Pulock. Slightly above what I was expecting of him at 0.12 goals per game.
Pace out that 0.147 goals per game over a full season, and Pulock is sitting at 12 goals. Just like Palmieri that is the type of production the Islanders want to see from Pulock. We're all used to seeing Pulock score 9-10 goals a year because that's what he did from 2017-18 through 2019-20.
He's the top guy for the Isles because he blends a perfect mix of defense and offense. We haven't seen that mix for a year+ now, so it was nice to see him do that at the end of the season.
Is it sustainable?
Yes. I have no doubt about it.
I understand this seems like a similar situation to Kyle Palmieri. This is yet another player who's not been at the level he should be for a while now, so why should we trust a 34-game sample that he's "cured"?
That's a fair concern, but Pulock is three and half years younger than Palmieri. Pulock is still in his prime so he's much likelier to return to the player we saw from 2017 to 2020 than Palmieri is.