Nothing has changed for defenseman Scott Mayfield, but everything is about to change.
The 2011 second-round draft pick, who first debuted for the Islanders in 2013, is set to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. "I've never been in this situation; it's new to me," said Mayfield when meeting with the media. "I don't know what to expect, I've never gone through it."
The 6'5 right-handed defenseman is entering free agency with his market value arguably at an all-time high after setting a career-high in goals (6) and points (24) as the Islanders' defense factored in the scoring more so than in previous seasons. He also played all 82 games and came out of the season as healthy as he has in recent seasons.
When he was still trying to establish himself as a regular at the NHL level, Mayfield signed a team-friendly five-year extension in January 2018 that paid him $7.25M and carried an annual cap hit of only 1.45M, far below the value he's provided the Islanders in recent seasons.
With a resume that includes the reputation as a player who raises his game in the postseason, Mayfield should be an attractive option for many teams looking to bolster their blueline with a physical presence. However, for now, Mayfield isn't afraid to let it be known that his intentions remain the same as they were during the season. He wants to remain on Long Island.
"My mind is still the same as what it's been. I love it here, my wife loves it here, Mayfield said. "We have our house, not too far from the rink, it's a great setup. My mindset is the same. This is where I want to be and we'll see what happens."
Whether the Islanders have the cap space to retain Mayfield, even at a hometown discount, remains to be seen. The team will likely prioritize adding a puck-moving defenseman to help their offense and their power play, but losing Mayfield will leave a sizeable void that will be difficult to fill.
"It's something I don't want to think about that much," Mayfield said when asked if he's thought about wearing another uniform. "I was drafted in 2011 and came here shortly after. There's a lot of things that happened here ... a lot of good times, it's a special group and a special place to be."