The Athletic just released player cards (subscription required) for every single player in the NHL. There's a bunch of good information on the cards like projected stats and such. But what I want to focus on is the most valuable contracts on the New York Islanders team.
And by valuable, I mean the positive difference between the player's salary and their market value. Who is playing above their paygrade right now? With no games over the last few days, this is the perfect time to look at something like this. What else are we going to talk about?
Maybe this doesn't sound super important, but getting value in the cap era is wildly important. So who on the isles is giving the team the most value?
New York Islanders: Top 5 valuable contracts this year
1-2. Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson (respectively)
This should not surprise you in the least. The two most valuable contracts on the team are two guys on entry-level contracts and both are absolutely lights-out impressive for the Islanders at the moment.
Oliver Wahlstrom is quickly turning into that top-line sniper the Islanders have been searching for for years now. And his impact on the power play has been felt since he stepped on the ice for the Isles.
Dobson, much like Wahlstrom, is evolving, rather quickly now, into the player they thought he could be when they drafted him in 2018. Since Ryan Pulock's injury, Dobson has not only stepped up into the top-four but he's become a defensive leader for the team.
Both are providing well above $4 million worth of value on their deals. It's $5.4m for Wahlstrom while $4.9m for Dobson. Again, that's number is value, as in what they bring in terms of market value above their actual salaries.
3. Ryan Pulock
He's still on that $5 million deal he signed in November of 2020, but even if he was on his new deal (carrying a $6.15 million cap hit) he'd be providing value for the Islanders. Right now, he's giving the Isles, $4.3 million in value.
Of course, he's injured right now, but he was a solid player this season. His production isn't there (two points in 12 games) but his defensive play is at a star level according to The Athletic's model. So just think what his value will be when he gets back to that 0.51 points-per-game blueliner he was in 2018-19.
4. Zach Parise
This one surprised me. I knew that Parise was playing well but he's providing the Isles with an extra $3.1 million in value. That's a lot of value from a league-minimum deal. It's good "found money" from the Isles here.
His production is meh with six points in 28 games (a pace of 18 over a full 82 games), but that combined with his top-end defensive play is what gives him value here.
5. (tied) Ilya Sorokin and Adam Pelech
You probably aren't surprised to see either name here. Both Sorokin and Pelech have been excellent for the Islanders this year. Both are giving the Islanders $1.8 million in value on their current deals. That's a pretty big drop-off from the $3.1 that Parise was giving the team.
Production has never been the crux of Adam Pelech's game, so his five points in 25 games won't worry anyone on the Island. Where Pelech generates his value is his defensive play. The Athletic ranks him as a star-level performer (top ten percentile in the NHL) for his defensive play.
Sorokin has been keeping the Isles afloat for weeks now. He's stood on his head a few times keeping his team in a game longer than they deserved to be. And his stats reflect his abilities. His 2.46GAA ranks 13th in the NHL, his 0.925SV% is eighth in the league, and he's tied for third in shutouts. I would have been surprised if Sorokin didn't make the top-5 cut.