Over the next week or so, my articles will be focused on what the New York Islanders’ offseason may look like. I started by predicting Mathew Barzal’s contract a few days ago and this article will project what Ryan Pulock may get paid on his next deal.
In my article where I reviewed Pulock’s season, my early prediction for an AAV on an eight-year deal for him was around $7.5M. After going through some comparables, while I don’t think it’ll be too far off that, I do think it’ll actually come in lower than the $7.5M that I originally predicted.
I came up with a simple method to predict contracts for forwards, which you saw if you read my last article predicting Mathew Barzal’s contract. Essentially, it’s a matter of finding a middle number between the player’s career points per 82 average at the point they signed the deal and their points per 82 average in their contract year. Then, you can take the AAV with that number and essentially find a cost per points average. It's not perfect but for the players I've tried it with, it's worked quite well.
Obviously, this isn’t the ideal way to project contracts for defensemen, as you usually can’t really tell a defensemen’s actual abilities to defend based on simple stats. However, it’s the easiest way to take production into account and while it wouldn’t work as well with someone like Adam Pelech, who’s strong defensively but doesn’t produce much offense, for Pulock, it makes a bit more sense based on his capabilities offensively. Another key factor with contracts for defensemen is usage, so in order to make this as accurate as possible, I tried to find comparables who were used in similar situations (ice time/special teams).
For those comparables, I used three defensemen who signed new deals fairly recently and given that Pulock will be playing the first season of his deal at 26 years old (by Dec. 31), I only used players who were within a year of that age in the first year of their deal. Pulock averaged 22:24 per game this year and played on both the power play and penalty kill, so I used three comparables that were used similarly in the season before signing their new contract.
I’ll give an example of the math on one of the comparables, then just show the totals of the other two. This is what I did for Cam Fowler’s contract, who started his deal in the 2018-19 season at 27 years old, with a $6.5M AAV. His stats are:
40 P/82 in contract year
36 career P/82
38 P/82 average
To get the number I used to figure out cost per points, I took his points per 82 games in the year before he signed his new contract and his P/82 average throughout his career to find a “middle ground” number, which is 38. I’ll also need to take his $6.5M cap hit and apply it to an $81.5M cap instead. Though Fowler signed his deal in 2017, the first year of the deal was only 2018-19, so I’m using the cap percentage from 2018-19 cap instead of the 2017-18 cap. This brings Fowler’s adjusted cap hit to $6.65M. Now, I can divide the AAV by the points average that I found (decimal moved on points average).
6.65 divided by 3.8= 1.75 payment rate
Now we’ll find Pulock’s points average:
42.2 P/82 in contract year
37.8 career P/82
40 P/82 average
I can then take the payment rate of 1.75 and multiply it by Pulock’s points average (3.8, decimal moved), which brings the projection on Pulock’s contract to $7M per year.
I also went through this process with Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba’s deals as well and this is what each projected for Ryan Pulock's AAV on an eight-year contract:
So although this is a flawed system for defensemen, it gave a pretty clear range for what an eight-year deal for Pulock may look like. There are some factors to consider though.
Fowler was used quite a bit more than Pulock when comparing each player’s year before signing. Fowler played about 2 and a half minutes more per game and came close to doubling Pulock’s TOI/GP on both the power play and penalty kill.
That said, Trouba was used fairly similarly, playing only about 30 seconds more per game and also played on both the power play and penalty kill. Josh Morrissey, on the other hand, played quite a bit more on the penalty kill but his TOI/GP in his contract year was actually the exact same as Pulock’s this season and they were within one second in terms of power play TOI/GP. This makes Morrissey by far the closest comparable.
I’d say Fowler’s projection isn’t as accurate, as he played quite a bit more than Pulock, meaning Pulock’s $7M projection should probably be a bit less than that in reality. Pulock did have a slightly higher P/82 in both his contract year and his career before signing so I don’t know that it would make a significant enough impact to drop the projection to the $6.5M range but I think it’s fair to say the number could be below $7M using him as a comparable.
Based on the comparables, my best guess at the range is probably somewhere between $6.75M on the low end and $7.5M on the high end if Pulock were to get an eight-year deal, with my prediction coming in at $7M per year.
***NOTE: We've launched a HockeyBuzz Islanders Twitter account! For anyone interested, you can follow @HB_Islanders for updates on articles, Islanders news, etc. We're starting right from scratch, so any followers would be appreciated!***
Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted tomorrow):
How long do you think Ryan Pulock's contract extension will be?