Scott Mayfield was one of the New York Islanders most improved in 2018-19 and there are high hopes for him because of that, but what can we expect from Mayfield this year with a crowded blue line?
Scott Mayfield doubled his NHL experience last year, playing in 87 of his 172 NHL games (regular season and playoffs combined) for the New York Islanders. Not all like the style of defenseman that Mayfield is – a more traditional defensive-minded blueliner – but it’d be nearly impossible to say that he was not a solid contributor.
After being inexplicably scratched in favor of Luca Sbisa to start the season, Mayfield entered the regular rotation soon after, proved he belonged and never left.
In 79 regular-season games, Mayfield had 18 points (four goals, 15 assists), was +18 with 68 penalty minutes in just under 19 minutes of ice time per game, but Mayfield’s impact is felt more outside the numbers.
He plays a physical stay-at-home defensive game, fiercely protects the front of the net and keeps the opposing team honest with skill players like Barzal, Bailey, and Eberle.
Admittedly I’m a huge supporter of Scott Mayfield (and outwardly petitioned him to be on the
before last season and that he and Hickey were
before Hickey’s injury during the season), but most fans would be hard-pressed to say he’s not at least a very strong third-pairing guy and a stretch second-pairing defenseman.
He complements very well guys like Toews and Leddy so that they can play the offensive game they naturally possess.
To me, he’s a critical reason for the Isles leading the league with the fewest goals against last year. But with Pulock, Pelech, Boychuk, Toews, Hickey and Leddy already on the roster and prospects like Noah Dobson, Bode Wilde and Sebastian Aho knocking on the door, Mayfield’s role on the team may be in flux.
I believe that quite a bit of Mayfield’s expectations are tied to what Lou Lamoriello and team decide to do with Noah Dobson. If Dobson is sent back to the QMJHL then Mayfield should be a lock to be a mainstay on the roster, likely paired again with Devon Toews in what came to be a very strong pairing.
You can also expect to see Mayfield heavily involved in the penalty kill and against opposing teams’ better forwards.
If Noah Dobson makes his way to the NHL roster – given his age it’s all or nothing for NHL or back to the Q – I worry that Mayfield’s role may be in doubt.
Keep in mind that there’s a market for 26-year-old (nearly 27), huge, physical third-pairing defensemen in the NHL, and with four years remaining on his contract at just a $1.45 million AAV he could easily be moved. That worries me.
(If you’re yelling at your computer right now, I understand you may prefer to unload Hickey, Boychuk or Leddy, but those are harder contracts to move.)
I don’t want to see Mayfield moved, but in the business of hockey, it feels like his fate is tied to that of a younger, more offensively talented 6’4″ defenseman.
If Dobson is sent back to the Q and Mayfield is on the team for the long haul as I hope, you can expect a physical, nasty defensive presence with an accurate shot and solid penalty-killing throughout this season and into the playoffs.