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Pulock Deal Opens Buyout Window For Isles, Makes Barzal Deal Trickier

The New York Islanders signed defenseman Ryan Pulock. In doing so, they’ll open a new buyout window and complicate the Mathew Barzal deal.

After trading Devon Toews, it was imperative the New York Islanders get restricted free agent Ryan Pulock signed to a new deal. The team did so on Tuesday, announcing they have inked the defenseman to a new two-year contract with an average of $5 million per season.

Related: The Cost of Success in the NHL and the RFA Market

The deal helps the Islanders avoid arbitration with the blueliner — a hearing that was scheduled for later this week — but it also makes signing center Mathew Barzal a bit more difficult.

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox notes that the Islanders are hoping to get Barzal signed for around $7.5 million per season. Barzal says he isn’t worried about the negotiations, but would like to get things done sooner than later and it is speculated he’s looking at a higher number than that. While Islanders GM Lamoriello seems confident an offer sheet isn’t coming, the Islanders $3.9 million in cap space after the Pulock deal creates obvious issues.

This means the Islanders are going to have to start shopping (assuming they haven’t already been) salary off the roster. Some of that could come in the form of a buyout. Because Pulock was the Islanders final arbitration case, the team will now receive a 24-hour buyout window that opens Friday. Any players who have a cap hit of at least $4 million could be dumped.

Ryan Pulock New York Islanders defenseman

Islanders Have Another Problem

The Barzal deal isn’t the only thing Lamoriello should be a bit concerned about. This new two-year contract for Pulock should represent a fair value, but it also means he’ll skate right into unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2022. At that time, he’ll be coming off two seasons with much more playing time and be only 27 years old.

If the Islanders don’t find a way to sign him prior to this new contract coming due, he’ll be one of the youngest free agents on the NHL UFA market and command a huge, long-term offer. Even if they do sign him before then, he’s not going to come cheap should he continue to progress.

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