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Islanders: If trading Scott Mayfield to Blues returns Bortuzzo it’s a hard no

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 15: Scott Mayfield #24 of the New York Islanders skates against the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden on April 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 15: Scott Mayfield #24 of the New York Islanders skates against the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden on April 15, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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I’m sure you’ve seen the article at this point. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford wrote (subscription required) about how the St Louis Blues should have an interest in bringing St Louis native and New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield home.

And look, I get the appeal. Mayfield is a strong bottom-four right-handed shutdown defenseman. And he’s on a great contract with a $1.45 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season. So I get why Rutherford wrote about trading for Mayfield.

But moving Mayfield creates a gap on the right side of the Isles defensive core and if Robert Bortuzzo is coming back to the Isles to fill that gap it’s a hard no from me.

New York Islanders can’t trade Scott Mayfield and get Bortuzzo to fill his spot

So Rutherford doesn’t suggest a 1:1 swap for Mayfield and Bortuzzo, but Mayfield might be headed to the Blues in a Vladimir Tarasenko package. You’d have to think if Mayfield is being moved that a defenseman returns to the Islanders.

But Bortuzzo, with all due respect, is not a good option to plug into the Islanders lineup.

By any conceivable measure, Scott Mayfield is the better player. Mayfield plays more minutes (against higher quality opponents), scores three times more, and is an integral part of the Isles PK (he also has way more PK time than Bortuzzo). So effectively swapping the two just doesn’t work for the Islanders.

Sure, joining a Barry Trotz team likely helps any defenseman in the NHL put up better numbers. But it seems clear that the Islanders are getting a downgrade here (even Rutherford says as much). And that just can’t happen or the Isles.

If the Isles didn’t already have a significant gap on the blueline swapping Mayfield for Bortuzzo (in a package to get Tarasenko) makes more sense. But as you’re probably well aware, the Isles don’t have a player to plug into the second pair after the Nick Leddy trade to the Red Wings. (Or they don’t have an obvious option).

Now add a downgrade with what would amount to a Mayfield-Bortuzzo swap and what was at first real strong blueline looks significantly weaker.

I know Barry Trotz is a great defensive coach but asking him to get top-end defensive performances from this group would be tough.

Of course, getting Tarasenko (assuming he’s 100% healthy) would be great but I can’t see Lou moving his team’s second-best defensive defenseman and not effectively replacing him shortly after trading away the team’s only puck-moving defenseman for future assets.

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