NY Islanders: How does Scott Mayfield's uncertain future impact Samuel Bolduc?

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New York Islanders have signed defenseman Samuel Bolduc to a two-year contract. According to CapFriendly, the contract carries an average annual value of $800,000:

Some fans have been wondering what this means for Scott Mayfield. After all, with this signing, the Islanders now have six NHL defensemen under contract (Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Sebastian Aho, Noah Dobson, and Alexander Romanov, plus Bolduc), and it seems that Mayfield, a pending free agent, might not be needed anymore. But it's not that simple.

First, don't read anything into the fact that Bolduc has been signed. He was a restricted free agent, meaning the Islanders retained exclusive negotiating rights, so there was never a real chance he'd sign anywhere else. This deal happening now, instead of a month from now, means they could quickly agree on a dollar value and term.

On the other hand, this contract is one-way, meaning there isn't a separate minor league salary. But that doesn't mean he's guaranteed a spot in the NHL - it just means that, even if he's in the AHL, he still gets his full $800k. Robin Salo, for example, signed a one-way contract last year (for the same amount, $800k per year, as Bolduc) and played almost all of this season in Bridgeport.

Plus, six defensemen aren't enough - NHL teams almost always carry 7 on the roster. So even if Bolduc does spend all of next season in the NHL, the Islanders still need another defenseman, and they could decide that signing Mayfield and using Bolduc as their healthy scratch is the best option.

Of course, they could also let Mayfield go, put Bolduc onto the roster, and sign a different 7th defenseman. Parker Wotherspoon will be a Group 6 unrestricted free agent - meaning that he's young enough to be an RFA but didn't play enough NHL games, so he becomes a UFA instead - but I still expect the Islanders to bring him back. After all, Sebastian Aho was a group 6 UFA last year but chose to re-sign with the Islanders and eventually became a full-time NHLer. Wotherspoon could fill that healthy scratch role and play occasional games, filling in in the event of injury.

But it still would make sense to bring Mayfield back. After all, Bolduc is young (just 22), and he'd be a third-pair defenseman on the Islanders. He looked okay in his brief NHL stint last year but was benched during the playoffs after making many mistakes and taking bad penalties. It might make sense to give him one more year in the AHL, similar to Salo.

None of that means that Mayfield will be back - they could as easily sign a different defenseman in free agency, give Bolduc the spot, or do something else. Just don't interpret the Bolduc contract as a sign that Mayfield is gone.