Alexander Romanov and Scott Mayfield should be paired together on the NY Islanders blue line

Production from the defenseman is far down from the 2022-23 season

Dallas Stars v New York Islanders
Dallas Stars v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The NY Islanders have struggled to find production from their defensemen on the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. Aside from Noah Dobson, only Alexander Romanov and Ryan Pulock have recorded goals with one a piece. When Adam Pelech was healthy, his penalty minutes were well above his average, while Sebastian Aho and Scott Mayfield have struggled to make their presence felt. While the lack of offense from the forwards shares much of the blame, the Islanders are built on the backs of strong defense and goaltending.

At any position, players tend to put together stronger performances when paired with others of similar characteristics. In 2022-23, the Islanders began the season with the defensive pairings of Pelech-Pulock, Aho-Dobson, and Romanov-Mayfield. The team started the season with a 15-8-0 record and defended the puck well in front of Ilya Sorokin, making him an early favorite for the Vezina Trophy. It wasn't until the change in calendar year that Lane Lambert decided to change this lineup. Since then, what has been the result?

Romanov and Mayfield play best when paired together

Romanov and Mayfield have seen their offensive and defensive production fall in 2023-24. Romanov has lost his aggressive nature on defense, which made him most effective. He only has 26 hits through 22 games this season while recording 198 in 76 games last season. He has been in constant miscommunication with Pulock, leading to a -5 rating when those two are paired together. Romanov and Pulock are very different players. Romanov has succeeded as a strong forechecker, while Pulock is known for his 95 MPH slapshot.

Once Pelech is healthy, he and Pulock should stick together as one of the best defensive pairings in the NHL. Since 2020-21, Pelech and Pulock have been one of the top pairings in the entire NHL. Why shuffle the lines with this type of success? Barry Trotz tried to separate them in 2021-22, resulting in struggles for the Islanders.

Mayfield is a strong forechecker as well and is not on the ice for his offense. Dobson and Aho are the Islanders' best skaters among defensemen and are not known for taking heavy hits to opponents. The drop in hits for Romanov is alarming - as there's the question of whether this is a coaching decision to make him less aggressive or if he merely doesn't play well with Dobson or Pulock. Regardless, Lane Lambert should consider the old saying, "Don't fix what isn't already broken." The Romanov-Mayfield line was not broken last season and produced positive results.