The New York Islanders would love to have Scott Mayfield back.
However, when it comes to resigning one's free agents, there are several considerations to consider in today's NHL salary cap world. Signing Mayfield to a high-cap number would be a mistake.
Mayfield is a physical defensive defenseman (6'5, 220 lbs.) who has played roughly between 20 - 21 minutes a night for the Isles during the regular season these past few seasons. He is coming off his best offensive season with six goals and 24 points (the first time he hit the 20-point mark).
Loving to have him back and signing him to a long-term high cap-hit contract are two different sets of encyclopedias.
Issues on Resigning Mayfield
First off, Mayfield will be 31 this coming October. While there shouldn't be any questions about him maintaining his physically defensive play over the next couple of years, how will his body and play be when he is 33 and beyond?
Let's talk about the cap. What cap number will it take to sign Mayfield? Most likely based on last year's unrestricted free-agent signings (Josh Manson, Nick Leddy, Erik Gudbranson) as well as recent signings (Damon Severson) looking at least a $4 million cap hit, good chance it's higher than that.
Even if Lou Lamoriello can fit Mayfield and a $4 million cap hit under the upcoming season's cap, what about after next season? Yes, the cap is estimated (estimated is the key word) to go up $4 million dollars for the 2024-25 season but keep in mind Ilya Sorokin is on the last year of his deal and then becomes an unrestricted free agent. Expect the Isles to sign him to an extension that will see his cap number go from $4 million to between $7 and $8 million.
In two years, both Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov will be restricted free agents. Both will be just 25 years of age and both will be in line for big-time salary bumps (and increased cap hits) on new long-term deals.
The Isles also have several defensemen coming through the system that the team is very excited about. Calle Odelius, Isaiah George, and Aidan Fulp could be on Long Island over the next two to three seasons. Very possible those kids will be ahead of Mayfield on the depth chart at that point.
Lamoriello could approach extending Mayfield as he did with Casey Cizikas when he signed him to a lower AAV ($2.5 million) but on a longer-term contract (6-year deal). Given Mayfield's age and physical play as stated even if Lamoriello signed him to say 6 years for $18 million ($3 million cap hit), years four through six could wind up being an anchor on the Isles cap on the second half of that contract.
When one adds it all up re-signing Mayfield to a long-term deal just doesn't make sense for the Isles. Letting Mayfield sign with someone else and using those cap dollars to bring in a puck-moving defenseman (trade or free agency) should be the avenue that Lamoriello pursues.