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Islanders aiming to bring back Scott Mayfield but decision could be complex

If Lou Lamoriello has his way, the 2023-24 Islanders will look a lot like the 2022-23 Islanders.

But that math equation will get complex along the way, particularly as regards Scott Mayfield, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. 

Mayfield, a career Islander, has been steadfast in his desire to stay.

Lamoriello, speaking publicly Tuesday for the first time since the end of the season, reiterated his desire to keep the defenseman, along with Pierre Engvall, Zach Parise and Semyon Varlamov, who will also be unrestricted free agents. 

“Our intention is to look at the people that we know first and feel that we like [to get them] back,” Lamoriello told reporters. “We’d certainly like Scott back and certainly Engvall and Zach and Varlamov. Right on the record for that, that they are priorities.” 

The catch, though, comes with what the general manager said just before that, when the Islanders’ president and general manager was asked whether the team needed to get more puck movement along its blue line — which he had mentioned as a priority at last year’s draft and which hampered the Isles all season. 

“If you can do it, you would,” Lamoriello said. “Mayfield couldn’t be in the top two pairs in that defensive situation, but I’d like to have offense with defense. But unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world.” 

Scott Mayfield
Getty Images

Mayfield played top-four minutes last season, averaging 21:02, and often lined up next to Adam Pelech.

But that had a lot to do with injuries and Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov’s inability to gel getting in the way of Lamoriello’s best-laid plans. 

That depth chart, with Pelech and Ryan Pulock on the top pair followed by Romanov and Dobson, is still the obvious play for the Islanders going into next season.

Which leaves Mayfield facing a potentially diminished role. 

And then there is the monetary piece of things.

The Islanders are on the books for $77,363,333, and likely will either trade Josh Bailey’s $5 million cap hit or buy him out and save $2,333,333 next season.

Even in a best-case scenario, that would leave Lamoriello with $11,136,667 to sign those four free agents, plus restricted free agents Samuel Bolduc and Oliver Wahlstrom. 

Oh, by the way, another righty defenseman — Damon Severson — inked an eight-year deal at $6.25 million average annual value in a Devils sign-and-trade deal with Columbus on Friday.

Severson is younger than Mayfield and more offensively inclined, but it’s a surety that the asking price for every right defenseman on the market went up a tick with that news. 

The counterweight, which may win out in the end, is that Mayfield wants to be with the Islanders and the Islanders want Mayfield to be with them.

Scott Mayfield
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

And in terms of role, it is still a question of whether that best-case-scenario depth chart will come to fruition. 

The publicly-stated desire by both parties to make things work may override everything else here, possibly even before July 1 if the Islanders can resolve Bailey’s situation, which should come before any other moves since it effectively determines their budget. 

If the Islanders end up unable to offer Mayfield the sort of average annual value he could get on the open market, they could attempt to offset part of the difference via longer term.

Another potential carrot, with Bailey likely leaving, is that the team will need a new alternate captain, though Brock Nelson wore an ‘A’ in games last season when Bailey was a healthy scratch. 

The smart money for the last couple of years regarding anything with the Islanders has been against change. That is probably where it is here, as well. 

But it is not impossible to see things going a different way.