Evaluating the NY Islanders' internal options to pair with Scott Mayfield next season

The Isles will have a hole to fill on the blue line this upcoming offseason.

Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) takes a shot
Mar 14, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) takes a shot / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Samuel Bolduc is the most realistic.

When the Isles projected their defensive lineup for an opening night during training camp, they had one open competition: who would play alongside Mayfield? Coming off a productive 2022-23 season, Aho was the favorable candidate since he had already shown chemistry with Mayfield previously. However, 23-year-old Samuel Bolduc earned himself an opportunity as well given his strong showing down the stretch last season. In 17 games, Bolduc had two goals and one assist including 16 blocked shots and 26 hits. He also replaced Alexander Romanov in the first 2 games of the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Per all of our expectations, Aho started on the bottom pairing on opening night against the Sabres. Despite losing the training camp battle for regular playing time, Bolduc still made the roster as the 7th defenseman. The Isles did not expect the 23-year-old to play right away but had no other choice as the injuries began to strike. In 33 games this season, Bolduc has been very disappointing with just one goal and a -5 rating. From the eye test, Bolduc continuously turned the puck over and struggled to clear the blue line, thus his 12:57 average ice time.

While Bolduc has struggled, he did improve as the season went on. There was a notable difference in his defensive approach in front of the net playing alongside a veteran in Bortuzzo. Unfortunately, Bolduc has not had an opportunity to build off his improvements given he has not appeared in a game since January 27th against the Panthers. The fact Bolduc was never waived shows Lamoriello still has confidence in his 2nd round draft pick from 2018. With just an $800K cap hit through next season, Bolduc is the most realistic option even if he makes the least sense as a pairing for Mayfield.