The Islanders have locked up the pillar of their defense to a long-term deal.
Adam Pelech signed an eight-year, $46 million contract, the team announced Friday morning.
The 26-year-old defenseman has emerged as a stalwart on the backend for head coach Barry Trotz, quickly becoming one of the most important players on the team. He is a top stay-at-home defenseman — arguably the best in the NHL — on a team that has given up the fewest amount of goals in the league (506) over the last three seasons.
“This is where I want to be,” Pelech told the media after his extension was announced. “I think all the guys feel the same way. They know there’s something special here.”
Analytically, Pelech is in the 97th percentile in Wins Above Replacement and the 99th percentile in Even-Strength Defensive WAR since the 2018-19 season, according to TopDownHockey. His long stick, timely pinches and penalty-killing prowess are a big reason the Islanders have played in 49 postseason games over the last three seasons.
In those contests, the Toronto native ranked second on the team in total ice-time. Last year, he notched one goal, four assists and five points as the Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning for the second consecutive season. The Isles fell in seven games.
During the regular season, the 2012 third-round pick scored four goals – including an end-to-end short-handed tally against the Capitals – 10 assists and 14 points in 56 games. He formed a shutdown pair with fellow defenseman Ryan Pulock, and both players received a fifth-place vote in the Norris Trophy voting earlier this summer.
Pelech’s contract was announced one day after his arbitration hearing was scheduled for Aug. 11, the first possible day a hearing could take place. Similar to this offseason, general manager Lou Lamoriello agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the arbitration-eligible Pulock prior to his hearing last November.
Now, Lamoriello will direct his focus to re-signing the team’s other notable restricted free agents, including forward Anthony Beauvillier and goalie Ilya Sorokin. Unrestricted free agent forwards Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise – who was bought out by the Wild on July 13 – are also targets expected to sign with the team.