What are the Islanders thankful for?
A stingy defense corps.
Yes, part of their success is due to Barry Trotz’s system but the Islanders boast a group of blueliners that is still relatively unheralded. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are both quality rearguards locked up on long-term deals that could wind up being team-friendly by the end; Pulock’s extension carries a $6.15MM AAV through 2030 that kicks in next season while Pelech checks in at $5.75MM through 2029. That’s a quality duo on the back end to build around for a long time. Noah Dobson will also be part of that long-term future while Scott Mayfield’s contract continues to be one of the better bargains in the league for at least one more year after this one.
Individually, none of these players brings a ‘wow’ factor to the table but as a group, it’s a good enough unit to help keep them close most nights even when the offense struggles. If they’re going to claw their way back into the playoff picture, this group will be a big part of it (especially with Pulock set to return soon).