Well, it’s the offseason, and the New York Islanders have announced almost nothing. Adam Pelech and Aatu Raty have been signed to contracts, but nothing else has been announced – even the Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri contracts we all expect are already signed.
What does the fanbase do in such times? We could simply turn to other non-hockey hobbies, trusting that the signings will be announced eventually. Or we could freak out over unsubstantiated rumors. Needless to say, most of us Isles fans have chosen the latter option.
I won’t even pretend to be neutral here. I think trading Mayfield is a terrible idea, none of those scenarios make any sense, and I don’t expect it to happen. But, because there’s such a lack of Isles news, I thought I’d explain exactly why I think that.
Should the New York Islanders trade Scott Mayfield?
Scott Mayfield is a mediocre defenseman. His even-strength Corsi For % last season was 46.8%, according to HockeyReference, which is below average for the Islanders (and the league as a whole).
To be fair to Scott, he is used as a defensive defenseman, so most of his zone starts are in the defensive zone (56.2% last season). It’s therefore not surprising that the team gives up more shots than they take when he’s on the ice, which is what Corsi For % measures.
But even with that caveat, he’s certainly not an elite shutdown defenseman like Adam Pelech is. The best you can say about Mayfield is that he’s a decent defensive defenseman who plays third-pair minutes and kills penalties (which he does fairly well).
With all that said, why do I think Mayfield should not be traded? Two reasons: depth and cap space.
At the moment, the Islanders’ right side includes Ryan Pulock, Mayfield, and Noah Dobson, who are all perfectly good NHLers. But their fourth RD – who would come up in the event of injury – is Bode Wilde or Grant Hutton.
If you’ve never heard of these players, it’s probably because neither has played an NHL game. Wilde is a 21-year-old former second-round pick, and while he might make the team eventually, he’s certainly not ready for the NHL yet.
Hutton is a 26-year-old undrafted prospect who had 21 points in 55 AHL games in 2019-20, then just five points in 24 games last season. He was a -5 in 2019-20 and -3 in 2020-21, which, on a team as bad as Bridgeport, honestly isn’t that bad.
But I don’t really want an untested rookie playing on the third pair alongside… probably another untested rookie? We don’t know who the Islanders’ third-pair left defenseman will be, but it’s at least possible it’ll be Robin Salo or Samuel Bolduc, and there’s just no way Barry Trotz would play a pairing with two rookies.
Jason Rutherford mentioned the possibility of swapping Mayfield for Robert Bortuzzo (subscription required), but that makes even less sense. It’d be nice to get a RHD back, but Bortuzzo is worse than Mayfield in pretty much every way.
Bortuzzo’s Corsi For % last season was 44.9% with similar zone deployment to Mayfield. He scored fewer points and had a worse +/- rating. Oh, and he’s three and a half years older (Bortuzzo is 32, Mayfield will be 29 in a few months).
Of course, the Blues could add picks or prospects to a swap, but that doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Islanders – why would a team that’s trying to win a Cup get worse in exchange for futures?
The Blues might want Mayfield as a piece in a Vladimir Tarasenko trade. I would argue that it wouldn’t make sense for the Islanders to do that, either. Tarasenko would be an amazing sniper on Barzal’s wing, but the Isles just can’t afford to give up a defenseman for a forward.
Plus, I haven’t even mentioned the most valuable thing about Mayfield – his contract. He makes just $1.45 million AAV for the next two years. In an era where the cap hasn’t increased as much as planned, and won’t for the next several years, that is a huge bargain.
Defensemen who can kill penalties and do an average job at even strength are a fairly rare commodity, and when your team gets one on a cheap contract, you don’t trade them unless it’s really worth it.
The only way a Mayfield trade makes sense is if he is moved for both Tarasenko and Bortuzzo. Even then, the Islanders would have to pay a lot more for both players, and it almost definitely wouldn’t be worth it.
So, should the Islanders trade Scott Mayfield? No, they should not.
Moving on to some questions from my previous article:
“Breadman69” asks “So is Lou gonna sign Parise to have him be a healthy scratch?” This is a good point. If the Islanders trade for Tarasenko without moving a forward back, that seems to leave Parise as the odd man out (the wingers would be Lee, Tarasenko, Beauvillier, Bailey, Palmieri, Wahlstrom, Martin, and Clutterbuck).
It’s hard to imagine Parise signing with a team just to be a healthy scratch, and he must have asked about that before signing (if indeed he is signed, which reporters all seem to agree he is). But this is the NHL, players get hurt all the time, and he might be content with playing once every few games and being the first man up in case of injury.
Of course, the Islanders could send back a forward to St. Louis, but I don’t think that’s particularly likely. The Blues have reportedly been interested in Beauvillier, but there’s no way the Islanders actually move him.
Could Bailey be part of a trade package? Maybe… he quietly put up fairly good numbers last season, with 35 points in 54 games and a Corsi For % of 50.2%. But he’s also 31 years old, and I don’t see why St. Louis would want him instead of picks or prospects.
Plus, it’d be a shame to lose Bailey, who has a good chance of breaking Bryan Trottier’s record for most games played as an Islander. He’s been here through a lot of bad times before being a part of the good, and sentimentally, I don’t want to lose him.
Marty Denman asks “How about Big Z as a 1 year stop gap at Left D while the kids get experience?” Chris Lizza wrote more about why signing Chara would make sense here, but long story short, I agree – it’d be satisfying seeing Z back on the Island, and could also make a lot of sense.
There’s been so little news for so long now, I’m thinking of doing a Q+A where I just answer reader questions for a full article. If you have a question, comment it below (please begin your comment with “Q+A”) or ask me on Twitter.