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Will this be Scott Mayfield's last year with the New York Islanders?

By Christopher Lizza
Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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This upcoming season may be the last for Scott Mayfield with the New York Islanders.

It's hard to believe, but Mayfield has been with the organization for over a decade after the late bloomer was selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft out of the University of Denver. But when looking at the Islanders' roster construction and the amount of money dedicated to the blue line, it's clear that Mayfield could be a cap casualty next summer as he enters the final year of his contract.

Back in 2018, General Manager, Garth Snow signed a 25-year-old Mayfield to a five-year extension. At the time, some fans questioned the length of the contract, but the deal turned out to be a windfall for the Isles as Mayfield's five-year deal was for $7.25 million with an annual cap hit of $1.45 million. Based on today's salary cap and the defenseman's performance, the contract has been an absolute bargain. "My thing is not so much the money, I wanted to be here., said Mayfield in 2018. "They drafted me, I played here, played in the minors, all that. I want to be here because we have a chance to win here."

What will his market be next summer and how far can the Islanders go to resign their homegrown defenseman?

Mayfield will be 31 at the start of his next contract. He was counted on as a dependable penalty-killer for Barry Trotz who also praised his improved passing before he was lost for the season after blocking a shot against the Ottawa Senators in March. He scored 3 goals and added 18 assists in 61 games and played in all 56 contests during the 2021 Covid-shortened season the year prior.

"I love it here. My wife loves it here. We have our house. You kind of set up home base here. We’re staying this summer, so we love it on the island, but I have no expectations. "

Scott Mayfield

Mayfield is viewed as a third-pair defenseman heading into this season, although he logged a career-high 19:41 TOI last year, fourth most on the team. Quite simply Mayfield plays like an Islander. The physical blue liner was a key cog to the lineup as his role expanded and he emerged as one of the leaders in the locker room. He's expected to serve as a mentor for Robin Salo in 2022-23.

There is no doubt that all things being equal Lou Lamoriello would want him back. The question is can Lou fit him under the cap? What will Mayfield's market value be next summer? Good chance Mayfield will be looking at a significant increase probably around $4 million a year on a four-year deal (although many teams have overpaid in free agency).

This summer veteran defensemen Nick Leddy resigned with the St. Louis Blues and Erik Gudbranson signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both with four-year deals for $16 million ($4 million AAV).

While that is not a huge increase (figure between $2.5 - $2.75 million) keep in mind the Isles still have to sign Noah Dobson to an extension this summer, agree to terms with RFA Alexander Romanov, and address Mathew Barzal next summer if not sooner. Also, if Lamoriello does add a top-six forward this summer be it signing Nazem Kadri or trading for JT Miller that will be more cap dollars gone for the 2023-24 season.

The only significant money coming off the books for the Isles after this season is Semyon Varlamov and his $5 million cap hit. It's estimated that the NHL salary cap ceiling will go up $1 million for the 2023-24 season but it will be a tight squeeze to keep Mayfield on Long Island.

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In recent years, we've seen Lamoriello prioritize keeping his own players. There is little doubt the Islanders would want to keep Mayfield, but the question is can they make it work? We'll wait and see if any moves this off-season impact the chances of that happening, but even with Mayfield wanting to stay on Long Island, a second extension will be tricky for a player that has earned a healthy raise.

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