Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I have begun our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as free agency and potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward.
50 | Adam Pelech | Defense
6-foot-3, 210 lbs
22 years old
Contract: $1.6 million cap hit, signed through 2020-21 (RFA)
Season: 44 GP, 3 G - 7 A - 10 Pts, 6 PIM, 40 Shots, 16:50 TOI, 46.6 Corsi
Career: 53 GP, 3 G - 9 A - 12 Pts, 6 PIM, 48 Shots, 16:58 TOI, 46.0 Corsi
The Islanders and general manager Garth Snow have made no secret of their admiration of Pelech and what he could bring to the organization on a long-term basis. By virtue of a surprising protected spot for the Vegas expansion draft, he was then handed a four-year contract extension worth $1.6 million AAV.
In locking up the 22-year old at a very reasonable cap hit, the Islanders are once again banking on young players to take the leap and progress their game. Next season, Johnny Boychuk will be a year older and it's uncertain how Calvin de Haan, who was extended only one season just prior to his arbitration hearing and now qualifies for unrestricted free agency, will play.
After trading Travis Hamonic to Calgary at the entry draft, it becomes almost imperative that Pelech and fellow rookie blueliner Ryan Pulock succeed at the highest level much sooner rather than later.
Possessing good raw skills, Pelech plays a sound defensive game, showing good positioning and poise with the puck. He's a big player, although he doesn't use his 6-foot-3 frame to play a very physical game, taking only three penalties in 44 games last season and delivering 73 hits. After a rookie season that was cut to nine games by thoracic outlet syndrome, it was refreshing to see him be able to play as effective as he did last season.
Chipping in 10 points was a bonus, as Pelech will never be confused with being an offensive defenseman. He had 20 goals and 107 points over 228 games across four OHL seasons with the Erie Otters and added another three goals and 23 points in 105 AHL games with Bridgeport.
IPB Grade: B-. Pelech is obviously thought of very highly in upper management circles, and it's clear Doug Weight will have to depend on the young defenseman to deliver the goods this season. Coming off a medical scare, he played solidly in his return last year, enough to warrant the excitement over his future prospects. As with any young player learning to play defense in the NHL, the fact he was so calm under most pressure situations bodes well.