Ryan Pulock was assigned to the Brandon Wheat Kings Monday. (FILE PHOTO)
After an eventful weekend, captain Ryan Pulock is looking forward to finally making his season debut with the Brandon Wheat Kings tomorrow night.
Fresh off scoring his first NHL pre-season goal and signing his first pro contract, the 19-year-old defenceman was assigned back to junior by the New York Islanders on Monday as the NHL club finalized its 23-player roster for opening night.
Pulock returns with some mixed emotions, disappointed he couldn’t crack the Islanders’ lineup after a strong training camp and pre-season, but excited to rejoin his old teammates for practice today as the Wheat Kings prepare to host the Edmonton Oil Kings Wednesday at Westman Place at 7 p.m.
"I felt pretty confident about the camp I had and the way I played in exhibition and I felt pretty comfortable out there, so it’s kind of tough, obviously, getting sent back in that way," Pulock said via telephone after landing at the Winnipeg airport late yesterday afternoon. "But at the same time, I’m excited to come back and join the club and get back to playing in Brandon."
Pulock, picked 15th overall by the Islanders in June’s NHL draft, signed a three-year, entry level-contract on Saturday for the rookie maximum base salary of $925,000 per season (plus performance bonuses) in the NHL, including a signing bonus of $277,500, according to CapGeek Inc. He celebrated his NHL deal by scoring a goal in the Islanders’ 4-1 pre-season victory over the Ottawa Senators Sunday before being returned to the WHL.
"It’s been an exciting time for me," Pulock said. "Obviously I was pretty happy to get that contract signed. It kind of gets some weight off my shoulders and I’m officially part of the organization now. And to be able to put one in the back of the net (Sunday) night was something special as well."
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound native of Grandview shared the Wheat Kings scoring lead with Tim McGauley last season, firing eight goals and notching 42 points in 63 games. He has led Brandon blue-liners in scoring in each of his three seasons, including breaking Wade Redden’s record for scoring by a 16-year-old defenceman with 42 points in his rookie season in 2010-11. Pulock, who has 41 goals and 147 points in 195 career WHL games, was the third Wheat King defenceman drafted by the Islanders organization in the first round, joining Redden (1995) and Kevin Cheveldayoff (1988), who now serves as general manager of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.
Pulock should be in the lineup tomorrow night when the Wheat Kings begin a five-game homestand by facing the Oil Kings.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks returned forward Hunter Shinkaruk, 19, to the Medicine Hat Tigers yesterday, while the Pittsburgh Penguins assigned defenceman Derrick Pouliot, 19, to the Portland Winterhawks. Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Morgan Rielly, 19, cracked the Toronto Maple Leafs’ opening-night roster.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 1, 2013