Adam Pelech got thrown right into the fire on Monday night, and the results were impressive.
Pelech, who took Travis Hamonic's spot on the top pairing with Nick Leddy, played 17:08 against the Canucks and registered an assist on Andrew Ladd's first goal of the season. He played to a 57.1 Corsi For Percentage and a 58.8 Fenwick For Percentage on the night.
"I thought he did a great job for us," Jack Capuano said of Pelech's performance. "The first couple shifts are always tough, especially as a defenseman. They've got guys coming with speed, a desperate team, like us."
Pelech, 22, now has 10 games of NHL experience.
I think almost every Isles fan who watched on Monday came away very impressed with Pelech, and for good reason. He turned in a sound, steady game, and as Capuano said after the game, really played to his strengths. I loved what I saw, and it left me encouraged that the Isles can absorb the remaining weeks on Ryan Pulock and Travis Hamonic's timetables.
What the Isles have to seriously consider now is taking inventory of their d-men and seeing if they can bolster another part of their team by dealing from a position of strength. At some point, Pulock and Hamonic are going to be back, and then you have eight capable NHL defenseman for only six-to-seven spots. With Calvin de Haan headed toward his RFA year this summer, could he be attractive to a host of defensively-starved teams? Probably, and it seems like the Isles may already be looking into it.
At this point, Pelech and, when healthy, Pulock have to play every day. These guys both have the potential to be top pairing d-men, and there's no sense of letting them waste time in the AHL anymore. It doesn't mean they're not going to make mistakes. Every player does. But they've both have proven they belong here, and it's time to take the reins off.