Islanders prospect Scott Mayfield is one step closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL. The Islanders announced Friday that Mayfield had agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level deal, and will begin his professional career this week with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
"It’s always been my goal to be a professional hockey player,” Mayfield said moments after inking the deal. “It’s my dream and this gives me the chance to do that and take the next step towards playing in the NHL.”
Mayfield played two years of college hockey at the University of Denver after being selected in the second round, 34thoverall, of the 2011 NHL Draft. The St. Louis, MO native tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 81 career games with the Pioneers. Denver qualified for the 16-team NCAA Tournament during each of Mayfield’s two seasons.
“I love it here at Denver and I couldn’t thank the coaching staff and the organization enough for everything they’ve done for me,” Mayfield said. “But I’m happy to take this next step in my career.”
The 6’4, 203-lb stay-at-home defenseman believes the professional game is more suited towards his style of hockey. His tough, physical style of defense should be well suited for the American Hockey League.
“I definitely play more of a physical, hard-nosed game, and that’s what I want to bring to the professional level now,” Mayfield said. “I do have some offensive upside, but the physicality in the corners and in front of the net is sometimes hindered in college playing against younger players. It’ll be nice to see how that pans out against older players in the AHL.”
After Denver fell to the University of New Hampshire in the NCAA Tournament’s first round, Mayfield will jump right into the playoff push with the Sound Tigers. Following Thursday’s 6-3 victory over Worcester, Bridgeport is just four points out a playoff spot. The former Pioneer is no stranger to crunch-time down the stretch.
“I kind of brought that at the end of the season here at Denver,” Mayfield said. “Now that that’s over I want to keep going and do everything I can to make this team successful and make a push to be in the postseason.”
One player Mayfield will be joining with the Sound Tigers is another former Denver Pioneer in Matt Donovan. Although Donovan and Mayfield’s years at UD didn’t coincide, they are on a similar path. A fourth round pick in 2008, Donovan also signed with the Islanders after his sophomore season. He is now one of the Sound Tigers’ leaders, and in the win against Worcester, became the first d-man in the team’s 1000 game history to record a four-point game (one goal, three assists).
“He’s definitely someone that I will try to emulate in what I do,” Mayfield said about his fellow alum. “If I need help I think he will always be there to offer it to me.”
Mayfield and Donovan have met at Islanders rookie camps and during Donovan’s trips back to the Denver campus.
Mayfield will not make his Sound Tigers debut Saturday night against the rival Connecticut Whale, but when he does step onto the ice at the professional level for the first time, he'll have one less step to go to reach his ultimate goal with the Islanders.