You could argue that it should’ve come earlier but Ryan Pulock’s first NHL season was worth the wait.
After 163 games, 39 goals, and 100 points as in Bridgeport with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Sound Tigers, the defenseman finally got his long-overdue full season chance with the big club.
Prior to this season, Pulock had 22 games of NHL experience, including playoffs. In those 22 games, he impressed with three goals and seven points, but he couldn’t secure a spot in the lineup so the team kept him in Bridgeport so he could continue to get significant ice-time.
The 23-year-old made the team out of training camp but was a healthy scratch in the team’s first six games. He made his season debut as the seventh defensemen in a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers on October 19. They put him in the lineup mainly to help a struggling Islanders power play.
During the game, he played a total of 8:43, the lowest amount of ice-time for any player on either team. However, 3:18 of those minutes were on the power play which was tied for the most in the game. On the power play, he did what he was put into the lineup to do, picking up the primary assist on Anders Lee’s power-play goal.
Still, Pulock came in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Eventually, with some help from injuries, Pulock got the opportunity to become a regular in the lineup and he ran away with it.
Pulock played a game for the ages on January 20, recording five points (one goal, four assists) in a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. According to Eric Hornick of NYISkinny, Pulock broke the record for most points in a game by an Islanders rookie defenseman. He also became the 10th rookie defenseman to record five or more points in a single game in NHL history and the first since 2007.
Despite the team’s struggles, Pulock’s rookie season ended with him playing some of his best hockey. Pulock played close to – and sometimes more than – 20 minutes a night for the final three months of the season including 26:51 in the team’s final game of the year.
His 10 goals led all rookie defensemen and his 32 points were tied for the third-most.
Pulock had 113 hits, one back of Johnny Boychuk for the most for a defenseman on the Islanders.
Pulock is a pending restricted free agent and he is certainly due for a pay raise.