The New York Islanders are up to their old tricks, signing defenseman Scott Mayfield to a five-year extension.
The New York Islanders are in the midst of arguably the most important season of their franchise’s history. This is their last chance to ensure upcoming unrestricted free agent center John Tavares keeps wearing orange and blue for a team in the United States. So far, it’s not working out too well, as their defense is failing them.
The Islanders have announced they’ve signed defenseman Scott Mayfield to a five-year deal worth $1.45 million per year. New York’s defensive woes have been well-documented, but he’s been one of the bright spots on a struggling blueline. Mayfield has already set career highs in games played (29), points (10), assists (eight), and tied his career high in goals (two).
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These kinds of extensions have become the norm for Islanders general manager Garth Snow. Just a few months ago, he signed Adam Pelech to an eerily similar deal. Much like him, Mayfield hasn’t proven that much at the NHL level. But he could also be a contributor like Pelech has been this year.
$1.45 million is a very reasonable cap hit for someone like Mayfield. It fits his role for the Islanders (third pairing defenseman). Though he’s 25, Mayfield still has a bit of upside. Depth is never a bad thing to have.
The Islanders could lose as many as three free agents this offseason, so keeping Mayfield around is probably a good idea.
Most importantly, his contract isn’t prohibitive as far as cost. Ideally, you’d like to be paying your third pairing defensemen as close to the league minimum as possible. Mayfield’s close enough to it. Factor in the likely rising salary cap ceiling and $1.45 million for a third pairing defenseman isn’t worth getting mad about.
This extension is a bit confusing if you consider the Islanders future. Mayfield is an above-average third pairing defenseman. But with Devon Toews and Sebastian Aho looking ready to take two of the potentially three open blueline spots that will be open next year, why give him five years? The term is a bit prohibitive and would be hard to move should the Islanders need to do so.
The extension shows the Isles aren’t too confident they’ll bring back Calvin de Haan. If they were, they wouldn’t have given Mayfield a five-year deal. Finally, of the Islanders’ defensemen, only Ryan Pulock is averaging less playing time per game than Mayfield (minimum three games played as of Jan. 4). It’s obvious head coach Doug Weight doesn’t value him too much. Giving role players long-term deals rarely works out.
This isn’t a bad deal. But it also isn’t a good one. It’s just confusing. Then again, Snow has his ways of doing things and it’s hard to see this deal hurting the Islanders that much. Mayfield could help the Isles long-term. But this doesn’t address their issue of needing top four defensemen.