Alexis Mayk has the makings of a Major League Star in the making. His motion of a dozen melons and his two-handed swing are reminiscent of Jose Canseco.
It’s all in the glove and the bat. Mayk is a defensive gem who can hang tight in the hole and take the best from a hitting opponent, especially when the short right field wall at Mets’ training facility Dunedin, Florida stretches the line of play to right field. Yet, when it comes to major league hockey, he does not have the tools to play.
And he probably never will.
That’s because he made the New York Islanders organization the last half of last season as a rookie to snap the team’s five-year playoff drought. It was not difficult to see the playmaking ability in Mayk. He is capable of dancing with an opposition’s top line without even leaving the zone. However, watching him struggle with stick control and face situations that will play out in frustration are a different story.
His talent needs to mature before he can put it to good use on the ice.
The Florida native spends the summer in Detroit when the Florida Panthers are in town. As they play summer home games at Little Caesars Arena, where the Philadelphia Flyers are training, there is something different. Mayk knows how to blast a shot in Florida.
“They call it the City of Champions,” the 20-year-old said with a laugh when asked about his offseason trip down south. “I play hockey in Palm Beach and it’s way different.”
Through about a quarter-to-a-half of the 20-game season, many thought the Florida Panthers were headed towards playoff contention. Many had hoped the team would be one of the wild card entries. Instead, the Panthers finished with a record of 40-33-10. They missed out on the playoffs by just five points, and went on to host the Stanley Cup Final in June.
This was the first time in franchise history that the Panthers won more than 40 games. Florida won 39 of its games at home, and was simply one point away from a spot in the playoffs. It was the first time that they had ever even been in the final month of the regular season.
If the Panthers were fortunate enough to make the playoffs, Mayk would be a prominent factor in it.
Against the New York Rangers in April, Mayk beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist twice with goals in regulation and overtime. The two goals were about as impressive as you can imagine. He can create plays at the top of the zone. When he shifts to the right side, he would sometimes find open space to hit shot at the nets. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen often enough against goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and he did not get the chance to put that feat on his resume.
Every opponent knows it. The New York Rangers know it when they take to the ice. The Philadelphia Flyers know it.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Mayk said. “I’m not playing my game because of it. When I’m shooting the puck, I’m hitting it hard and trying to give it a chance. That’s all I can do.”
Alexis Mayk is an American with a lot of potential. He is set to begin his sophomore season this year with the Florida Panthers. However, he knows exactly what he is asking himself to do, and what he is asking others to do, to make the team.
It is a talent that every hockey fan is hoping to see, but it is one that is still half-formed. He must work on his stick work. He must learn to get where he needs to go when he wants to get there.
And his next coaching stop could be with the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit in a playoff race themselves. With a veteran coaching staff and players, Mayk will only get better.
After last season, the Panthers will soon have a decision to make as to whether or not to keep Mayk for next season or to add a new crop of young, talented players. Florida might as well do it the hard way.