Ryan Pulock has officially returned to the New York Islanders lineup. It's been nearly three months since he last played a game and boy did the Isles miss the right-shot defenseman.
Getting anyone back from injury is a good thing and cause for excitement. But getting Ryan Pulock back in the lineup is a pretty big deal. Here are three reasons why that is.
New York Islanders: Three reasons to be excited for Ryan Pulock's return
Blue Line back
With Pulock's return, the Islanders six-man defensive unit gets much stronger. Pulock is widely regarded as an elite defenseman in the NHL. He might not be paid like one, but he certainly plays like one.
With him back in the lineup they can ice a group of:
That's a strong defensive group. Say what you will about how Chara started his year, he's bounced back to become an asset for this team now. Pair that with an elite Pelech-Pulock duo and the Islanders defense becomes much stronger than it was just a few days ago.
We all know the Islanders need to find a few more goals. And Ryan Pulock can give the Islanders an extra jolt of goal-scoring they can use. And I don't mean in some indirect way by looking at HDCF or something like that. We know that Pulock can score goals.
In 2019-20 he was on pace to score 12 from the blueline and typically converts shots to goals at a near 6% clip. I know that this 12-goal pace season was two years ago and that Pulock has scored twice in the following 69 games, but from 2017-18 through 2019-20 he put up 29 goals in 218 games that's good for ~11 goals a year.
At this point, adding a defenseman that can add eleven goals (in a full season) to the roster for free is something to get excited about.
With Ryan Pulock back, and Kyle Palmieri returning a few days before him, the Islanders are finally back to full strength. For the first time in...two months?
Not being able to ice a full-strength team is a big reason for the Islanders fall in the standings. Specifically when it comes to Pulock who, again, is their top defenseman who plays big minutes in all three situations (5on5, PP, and on the PK).
It might be too late, but getting Pulock back and with him a squad at full-strength, will undoubtedly help the Islanders climb up the Metropolitan Division standings.