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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: High on Ryan Pulock at #3

Now play the man.

"I've seen the future, brother, it is murder."
"I've seen the future, brother, it is murder."
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Among the broadly captured cross-section of irate or puzzled New York Islanders fans, Ryan Pulock was the Matt Donovan of 2015-16.

"Why isn't he up? Why isn't he dressed? Why isn't he getting more minutes? If they want him to succeed why are they putting them in that position?"

Thankfully, Pulock looks much more likely to pan out as a contributing NHLer than Donovan, who spent 2014-15 in waiver/pressbox limbo and then spent this past season with Buffalo's AHL affiliate.

Pulock of course has the booming shot, the more heralded draft and amateur pedigree, and he's already paid some dividends in limited exposure in the NHL with 15 regular season games (2 goals, 2 assists) and six playoff games (1 goal, 2 assists). The coaching staff in Brooklyn and in Bridgeport wanted him to focus on rounding out his game during the first half of last season. By their accounts, he did that, and he certainly looked capable in his NHL time.

It looked like he still has to adjust to certain defensive situations against big, relentless NHLers with high-end skill, but he was steady in his own end and -- increasingly important in today's NHL -- creative in carrying the puck out. One can picture him unleashing power play bombs from phone-booth John Tavares setups for years to come.

In short, he's an asset who needs to be developed (yesterday) and deployed (now!) as a weapon, not just a part-time fill-in.

Hopefully that begins next season, when he'll be 22.

That mix of promise and good results in his (albeit limited) NHL experience so far explains why he's up so high in our Islanders Top 25 Under 25.

How We Voted (and Some Why)

King (CIL) Keith Mike B. McNally Garik Dominik Leboff Les
1 3

We're at the spot in the rankings where a couple of outlier votes here or there can change Pulock from #4 (where Brock Nelson landed) to #3. (I thought about tossing out the high and low votes for each player, but in the name of chaos it's more fun to see how everything averages out and let the outliers explain their view.)

So we'll start with the two who put Pulock at the very top of the pool:

Les (HockeyGoalieEh):

Ryan Pulock was basically the only prospect for the Islanders that was both in the N.H.L. and wasn't horridly underwhelming. With Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome underperforming like mad, he easily takes the top spot.


When John Tavares is out of the running for the top spot, choosing a top Islander Under 25 is a tough one.

Pulock has the size and offensive talent to be a difference maker on the Islanders' blue line. His defensive game has improved since first turning pro and his skating looked better this year than it did the season before. Paired with Leddy, they can be a formidable back end to the Isles' PP1.

He may not be the most talented of the under 25's, but I believe Pulock will have the greatest impact on the most areas for the 2016-17 Islanders season. That is what lands him at #1 on my list.

The rest of us had Pulock at 3 or 4 (which means next, we'll have to explain why we're so high on a forward who hasn't seen a single NHL game)...

David King (CanadianIslesLifer):

Pulock always had the elite shot, it was the rest of his game that needed to evolve, particularly his defense. 15 games plus playoffs is a small sample, but from what I see, Pulock's overall game has improved considerably. He can handle the speed of the NHL. His defensive positioning and gap control are better.

Pulock projects as a top 4 defender who will specialize on the power play. His ceiling could be higher. He is a physically strong prospect at 6'2, 215 pounds and only 21. He also plays the same position, and comes from the same northern Canadian province (Manitoba) as Travis Hamonic.


We know very little about how good Pulock is, though the initial returns were pretty good. He played best with Brian Strait! He wouldn't be 3 if this team had more established players under 25, but he makes this spot basically as the most NHL ready good prospect on the board.

Mike B.:

Pulock's slapshot was probably the single best individual tool of anyone from his draft class, and he has developed far enough in the rest of his game to turn it into a fearsome weapon. This was a great pick and Pulock's will be a key player next season and beyond.


He looked great and it was surprising (ROFLMFAO coach) he wasn't put in better positions to succeed, particularly on the PP. Carries the puck better than I expected, jumps into the play well and the shot is as advertised. Will make for some interesting defensive decisions this season.


Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.

Oh, indeed. Indeed.

Previously in the Top 25 Under 25