The Islanders announced Monday that they have recalled Adam Pelech from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old defenseman was selected in the third round (65th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.
The Islanders decided on calling up Pelech over their 2013 first-round pick Ryan Pulock for a couple of reasons. First off, Pelech is a left-handed shot. While Pulock is a right-handed shot. I understood why Pulock, who made the team out of training camp due to Thomas Hickey’s first injury of the season, but did not play due to the fact that he would have had to start on the opposite side. Head Coach Jack Capuano did not want to do that to a defenseman making his NHL debut. Brian Strait, a left-handed shot replaced Hickey to start the season. Hickey returned on October 17th vs San Jose but lasted just four games before getting injured again. Strait was inserted back to the lineup and well, has played like Brian Strait. Marek Zidlicky, who was signed prior to training camp to provide defensive depth has also struggled. Capuano prefers to play veterans over youngsters, especially when it comes to defensemen (remember Matt Donovan). I would have called both Pelech and Pulock up and immediately had them as their third defensive pairing. Hickey could return as early as the end of next week, giving the rookie pairing a 4-5 game audition. But we will have to take just Pelech at the moment. The Islanders were playing with just six defensemen on their roster before the Pelech call-up.
I really like Adam Pelech. Similar to Scott Mayfield, he's steady & responsible, can play in a support role. Exactly what #Isles need.
— Daniel Friedman (@DanJFriedman) November 9, 2015
The second reason for Pelech’s promotion to the Islanders is quite frankly he’s been best the Sound Tigers’ best defenseman. In 14 games, Pelech has 2 goals (both shorthanded), 2 assists and is a team-high plus nine. Scott Mayfield, who played 5 regular season games in 2013-14 and suited up for Games 6 and 7 of last year’s playoff series vs the Washington Capitals, has not really stood out. Mayfield has 2 goals and an assist in 13 games. He plays a similar game to his pairing mate. Pelech plays a physical game and has the body (6’3″, 210 lbs) for it. Strait simply gets man-handled and over-matched by better competition. A Strait penalty usually means a power-play goal by the opponent. As bad as Strait has been this season, Zidlicky actually has been worse. He’s very prone to making bad decisions in the defensive zone.
So it's not Pulock, but a LH D-man. Pelech could take Strait's spot tomorrow in SJ, it seems. Pelech, 21, is 2-2-4 and team-best +9 for BPT.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) November 9, 2015
Pelech started his professional career a season ago in Bridgeport. The Toronto native had 11 assists in 65 games. Before signing his entry-level contract in March of 2014, Pelech played four seasons with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. He complied 20 goals and 107 assists in 228 games. His best season, 2013-14, was his last with Erie, he scored 9 goals with 45 assists, both career highs, he was plus-52 with 46 penalty minutes in 60 regular season games. He represented Canada on the U20 team at the 2014 World Junior Championships. In seven games at the WJC he was plus-1 with an assist and 2 penalty minutes. Canada finished fourth; losing, 2-1, to Russia in the bronze medal game.
Adam Pelech has a big chance to impress during this Islanders west coast trip. He could make it difficult for the Islanders brass to send him back to Bridgeport once Thomas Hickey returns to the lineup.
Noel Fogelman is a 5-time Emmy Winner and started his career working on the Buffalo Sabres Pre and postgame shows for the Empire Sports Network. He then went to Bristol, CT to work at ESPN on NHL2Night and its coverage of the Stanley Cup. Follow me on Twiter @thefirstnoel19