2. Scott Mayfield’s 2020-21 Season
During the day Thursday a tweet about disappointing 2020-21 Islanders grabbed my eye, and I, foolishly threw in my two cents. The tweet listed Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, and Scott Mayfield as the first, second, and third most-disappointing Islanders this season.
The first two, I totally agree with. Beau and Bailey have been in poor form all season, and I’ve made no arguments about that, though I have said I believe the pair of forwards to be good enough to pull themselves out of the funk.
Mayfield’s place on that list I disagreed with. Mainly, because I don’t think Mayfield has been disappointing, he’s just been, Scott Mayfield. That’s not meant to be a swipe at the Islanders defenseman either, it’s just an observation.
Mayfield is, in my opinion, a decent but limited defenseman with a very one-dimensional skillset. He’s pretty good at guarding his blue line, and in his own zone and he’s big and strong enough to muscle opposing players around often. His positional play cost him on Thursday, as it was Mayfield whose blown coverage led to Oskar Lindblom’s late game-winning goal.
I’ve been banging the drum about how poor the Islanders defenseman’s transitional abilities are all season. Asking Mayfield to exit the Islanders zone with control of the puck is just tempting fate. It often results in an icing when he tries to pass his way out of the zone, or a turnover when he carries.
He’s never been a play-driver, as his career average 48.1% Corsi For Percentage indicates, and his 50.5% xGF% since 2018-19 has only dropped to 49% in 2020-21 when adjusted for score and venue, according to Natural Stat Trick.
So I’ve gotta ask, has Mayfield’s season really been disappointing, or are his shortcomings just more glaring now than they’ve been previously? It isn’t as though he’s seen a huge drop in the quality of his D partner. Nick Leddy has been every bit the Devon Toews replacement that I didn’t believe he could be entering the season. Leddy is having a revelatory bounce-back season, maybe his best since 2014-15, his first year on Long Island.
Scott Mayfield is a lot of things. Frustrating, prone to lapses in better on-ice judgment, etc., but I wouldn’t say disappointing is the right term here.