When Scott Mayfield made his debut with the Islanders a few seasons ago, I had my doubts as to whether he’d improve to the point of being a quality defenseman on a good NHL team.
He is now a quality defenseman on a good NHL team.
There was a play he made in Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Detroit that stood out to me, as this was the kind of play I was skeptical he’d be able to make at this level. See, Mayfield is 6’5. So although his draft scouting report mentioned his good skating and mobility, and although that was something that surprised me a few years ago, it’s just hard to envision a 6’5 defenseman being mobile enough to keep pace with the best and fastest skaters in the NHL.
This was exactly the kind of play I wasn’t sure he’d be able to make: one-on-one against one of the fastest skaters in the world, Dylan Larkin. Detroit breaks out of their own zone with control and Larkin is able to build up speed through the neutral zone. He takes Mayfield to the outside and almost beats him, but Mayfield uses his long reach to knock the puck away to the corner before starting the breakout with a bank pass to a teammate.
Beautifully done, Mr. Mayfield.
Now, I wrote all of the above before Sunday’s 3-2 OT win in Minnesota. Seeing as I don’t really have much time to write about the play I want to pick from yesterday’s game, I’ll just pick a random Mayfield play in the defensive zone for the sake of continuity. Here’s a solid play he made in front of the net against the sneaky and speedy Jared Spurgeon:
Nothing crazy here, just some solid defense from Mayfield. Spurgeon was dynamic in yesterday’s game; he was pinching in aggressively (eventually scoring the game-tying goal) and seems to have a good nose for the puck. Mayfield stands his ground and ties Spurgeon up enough to not let him get a stick on it. This allows Leo Komarov to slide in, take the puck away, break out of the zone and immediately give it back to the Wild so as to give Mayfield another opportunity to show off that stout defense. That’s called Leadership.
Scott Mayfield is growing into a fine young defenseman before our very eyes.
Till next time.