Adam Pelech’s first season in the NHL was a respectable one, displaying large bouts of skill and several indications that improvement is still very much needed.
Adam Pelech did not start the 2016-2017 season on the New York Islanders’ roster. In fact, it was a call-up early on after injuries hurt the lineup that Pelech did eventually make his 16-17 debut, and fans were excited to see him lace up for what would hopefully be, and proved to be, the rest of the season.
In 44 games, Adam Pelech scored three goals and 10 points amassing six penalty minutes as well. The young defensemen was overall very disciplined and stable in his own end. Throughout the season Pelech primarily slotted in alongside rookie Scott Mayfield and mainstay Nick Leddy.
It was when Pelech played alongside Leddy that fans began to take notice to the talented defensemen. Pelech seemed to settle down playing on Leddy’s right, gaining more confidence playing with an experienced NHL regular and being less afraid to make mistakes knowing who he had on his left.
On a more sour note, there were clear parts where Pelech lost his positioning on the ice, turned the puck over, and made himself more disoriented than need be. Pelech finished -5 after 44 games. Given the condition of the team after the first few months, this might not appear as damning a stat. However given that he was on Leddy’s side during the better of the Islanders hockey, this should be a little bit higher. These growing pains are part of grooming NHL defensemen, and Pelech’s upside far outweighs the inexperience in his play.
The defensemen’s shortcomings can and will be remedied through consistent play and mentoring through Doug Weight’s new coaching staff.
The Islanders have a potential top-four defenseman in Adam Pelech, and depending on his sophomore step in 15-16, they could have another young regular in a talented pool of defensemen.
For Pelech and much of the defense (Mayfield, Pulock), next season will be another formative year for a core of young blue-liners.