The New York Islanders’ defense, which was an issue for the majority of the 2021-22 NHL season, has been revamped with the losses of two aging veterans and the addition of young talent in Alexander Romanov, who has plenty of upside after three NHL seasons.
The talk has been about the New York Islanders’ top-four defensemen, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson, and Romanov. But there has been little talk about the importance of Scott Mayfield in the equation.
Scott Mayfield is likely to play a critical, new role in 2022-23 for the New York Islanders, a role he has not played yet as an NHL defenseman–a mentor.
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Mayfield will be entering his ninth NHL season, and unless the New York Islanders add a veteran defenseman before the start of the 2022-23 campaign, Scott Mayfield could find himself alongside 23-year-old Robin Salo, 26-year-old Grant Hutton, or 26-year-old Sebastian Aho, all players who have very limited NHL experience.
Robin Salo starting in the NHL is an interesting storyline that we at NYI Hockey Now dove into last week.
You can check out that piece below:
Robin Salo only has 21 NHL games under his belt, with 18 of them coming alongside Scott Mayfield. In 78:01 TOI (five-on-five), the pairing did not have much success. The New York Islanders were out-shot (40-31), out-chanced (48-33), and out-scored (3-1) when the pairing was on the ice.
But it was only an 18-game trial, and as we saw with youngster Noah Dobson and Zdeno Chara, it takes some time to get accustomed to one another on the ice.
Because Robin Salo is a puck-moving defenseman and has shown glimpses of what he brings to the table, he could very well be in the starting lineup come Oct. 13.
Having the defensive-minded Scott Mayfield alongside Salo, if he makes the cut, is rather important.
Salo will make mistakes, as every young player does, and having a stable, calm presence alongside him, will undoubtedly help Salo’s transition into an everyday NHLer–if he gets the opportunity.
For Grant Hutton and Sebastian Aho, despite their age, they only have a combined 77 career games at the NHL level, with Aho having played 61 and Hutton just 16. Salo has the higher upside given his age and his ability, but it will be up to head coach Lane Lambert and the rest of the coaching staff to determine the best course of action.
Scott Mayfield saw his role elevated with the New York Islanders this past season as he stepped up when Ryan Pulock went down with an injury.
Mayfield filled in on the top pairing with Adam Pelech often, 626:27 minutes to be exact, five-on-five.
While the two were on the ice, the New York Islanders outshot (106-103), out-chanced (284-280), and out-scored their opponents (23-17).
On the season, Mayfield notched three goals and 15 assists while averaging 19:47 minutes per game, the second-highest of his NHL career.
His 18 points were also the second most he has accumulated in a season and was on pace for a 24-point campaign, but the injury got in the way.
That would have been a career-high.
We spoke with Scott Mayfield following the end of the 2021-22 campaign, and he said that he was close to 100% healthy heading into the offseason.
There have been rumors circulating, as far back as the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline that Scott Mayfield could be on the move.
Scott Mayfield, 29, is entering the final year of his contract, which carries an annual average value of $1.45 million. He is due for a pay raise but wants to remain on the island.
“I love it here. My wife loves it here. We have our house,” Mayfield said during his exit interview back on Apr. 30. “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 [on contract extension].”
“Just show up and do my job.”
It has become rather clear that the Vancouver Canucks are in dire need of defense and with contract negotiations far apart with star J.T. Miller per President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, a trade could be drawing near, whether this offseason or by the 2023 NHL Trade deadline.
The Islanders tried to acquire J.T. Miller at the 2022 NHL Draft, but things fell apart on the draft floor.
If Mayfield was involved in a move for Miller, yes the New York Islanders will get their star forward but would now have two question marks on the backend instead of just one.
And remember, the Islanders’ bread and butter, their strength, is still their defense, and keeping it a strength seems to be the goal of Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Mayfield is a player’s coach, doing whatever is asked of him, whether it is playing big minutes on a nightly basis, including minutes on the penalty kill. He is a steady force in his own zone and played an integral part in the New York Islanders’ back-to-back Conference Final runs, averaging over 20 minutes per night (21:08).
This past season, he and the rest of his teammates were able to learn from future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara, who just finished up his 24th NHL season. Chara has mentored a ton of players throughout his career, the latest being Noah Dobson.
We will see when training camp begins who Lane Lambert pairs Scott Mayfield with. But as the days go by, that mentor role may be his for the taking.