Scott Mayfield wasn't shy about his desire to be the defenseman to take on a larger role after Travis Hamonic's departure.
The 24-year-old defenseman was assertive, coming right out and saying he wanted a regular spot and now that he's in the lineup, he's backing it up with his play.
"He played the same way he did through the back half of the year and in training camp," Head Coach Doug Weight said. "He's pushed for more ice time through his play. To me, he's been a big asset."
Mayfield has long been known as a physical presence and at 6'4, 227 lbs. is one of the Islanders biggest blueliners, but Weight challenged him to develop other aspects of his game, namely the ability to move the puck up the ice and contribute in the attack. He's not asking Mayfield to become Nick Leddy, but not to shy away from offensive opportunities, either.
Video: Mayfield Cuts Flow To Charity
"He's always been very aggressive. He's long, he's strong, he's fearless and he brings us that element that we don't have a lot of," Weight said. "But he's moving the puck well, he's moving his feet. He's getting involved in all three zones. His gap has been excellent."
The defenseman notched his first point of the season on Wednesday, picking up an assist on Brock Nelson's first-period goal. Nelson finished the play with a nifty deflection off of Mayfield's shot. For a player looking to get more involved in the offense and make that a part of his game, every point counts, especially early in the season.
"My first couple of years I didn't want to make mistakes so I didn't want to jump up in the play," Mayfield said. "I wanted to play it safe and that's not how the NHL is, you need a five-man attack, that's what Dougie wants and that's something we're doing pretty good at right now."
Last season, Mayfield started coming to the realization that he'd have to contribute more than just physical play and clearing the net if he wanted a meaningful role with the Islanders. He took a step forward offensively with nine points (2G, 7A) in 25 games in 2016-17 and was much more apt to join the play and shoot the puck. This year he says he feels comfortable and playing alongside Thomas Hickey has helped.
Video: NYI@ANA: Nelson deflects high shot past Gibson
"It's an experience thing. Experience and confidence," Mayfield said. "In the O zone you'll see [Hickey and I] move around a lot, we do a lot of switches... I think we compliement each other well in the D zone. I can get physical, make bigger hits in front of the net and he can get in and get the puck. Right now we're pretty happy with how we're playing."
Mayfield was initially disappointed to not be on the opening night roster, but has used it as fuel in the past three games. With the Islanders carrying eight defensemen and the coaching staff looking to get Ryan Pulock into game action soon, Mayfield knows that he'll have to continue to play well to stay in the lineup.
"That's my biggest goal is to show every night and make it hard for them to take me out," Mayfield said. "At the same time, I realize the team we have and I know it might happen, it might not. I can only control how I play, so every day I'm just going in and doing what I can to make sure I stay in the lineup."