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Ryan Pulock, Islanders reach two-year deal, avoid arbitration

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The defenseman agrees to a reported two-year, $10 million deal.

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The New York Islanders and defenseman Ryan Pulock have agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract, according to multiple reports.

The move means the sides avoid Friday’s arbitration hearing for the restricted free agent, and gives the Islanders clarity on what room they have to proceed with their key remaining free agents, most importantly Mathew Barzal.

The Islanders, who already traded fellow RFA Devon Toews to Colorado to create salary cap space, will still have some clearing to do.

The deal will take Pulock up to unrestricted free agency, when the market may have more to give players of his caliber and the Islanders might be in a better cap situation.

It’s a bit of a punt from both sides: Pulock gets a handsome salary (before escrow) during pandemic conditions, but flexibility to pursue a bigger payday. The cap-squeezed Isles keep Pulock’s new cap hit somewhat low at $5 million — there was much thought that he could receive well higher in arbitration — but do not lock him up into his UFA years.

With everything uncertain around the league’s pandemic plans and the cap, and the Islanders stuck under a flat cap, this is just where we are right now. Something will have to give (or be LTIR creative) before Barzal’s next contract is secured.