The Scott Mayfield contract is looking like a major problem for the NY Islanders

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Defenseman Scott Mayfield is in his 10th season with the New York Islanders and signed for six more, and if any of them resemble what has been a nightmare of 2023-24, the Islanders are in trouble.

When GM Lou Lamoriello signed the 31-year-old right-hand defenseman to a seven-year contract extension in the summer, it was with the thinking that the Isles knew what they were getting. Throughout his career, Mayfield had been a reliable, steadfast physical defenseman who was solid as part of a third-pair but could play top-four minutes when called upon due to injuries. Even better, his play elevated in the post-season when the more tightly contested games best matched his style.

Unlike the Pierre Engvall contract, which was about buying the upside, Mayfield's long-term deal was about avoiding the downside. The Islanders would have had to replace his minutes, especially on the penalty kill, and that was perceived as too big of a risk for Lamoriello. The $3.5M AAV is manageable, it's not an albatross, but more than that, Mayfield is expected to play around 18-20 minutes a night and be a trusted defender in key situations.

Unfortunately, Mayfield's presence has been more often a detriment than an asset this season. His 38.5% Corsi For (CF) is the worst of his career, and he has 35 PIM in just 39 games after an undisciplined 83 in 82 games last season, which led the team. This year, only Anders Lee has more penalty minutes with 37, but Mayfield has played in 15 fewer games.

Ilya Sorokin, Chris Kreider, Scott Mayfield
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Mayfield has battled through injuries this season, and for a while, that was attributed to his poor play, but that can no longer be used as the reason or excuse for recent mistakes. Although Mayfield has struggled, he's still a better penalty-kill option than some other defenseman. That means when he's in the box like he was three separate times on Sunday, he's not only putting the league's worst penalty kill on the ice but also leaving them in a worse position.

Mayfield's contract carries with it a full no-trade clause for the first four years of the deal through the 2026-27 season. From there, he has a modified, 16-team trade for the final three years. As a player who has talked openly about how much he and his wife enjoy his setup on Long Island, it's hard to imagine him waiving it for any reason.

The Islanders didn't sign him to suddenly become a top-four defenseman. He was brought back to play a specific role and to do it well. If Mayfield's name isn't heard much throughout a broadcast, it means he's having a strong game. The fact that his play has been at the center of so many bad Islanders losses is concerning moving forward for the rest of the season and for the long-term future.