There are plenty of different types of contract negotiations in the NHL. Some contracts are worked out quickly while others can take over a year to work out the details. Some negotiations are civil and sometimes the discussions can get personal. Each situation has a different cast of characters—from the player, to his agent, to the general manager working to fill his team. Accordingly, each negotiation tends to take on a life of it’s own.
Despite Josh Bailey’s contract talks coming down to the wire, it sounds like everything has been civilized within the talks. Bailey reiterated today that he has no intention of holding out and is confident that a deal will be completed before training camp starts.
Here’s what Bailey had to say to Katie Strang at Newsday:
“Me and Snowy have always had a great relationship and I’ve always only had the intentions of playing here. This is home, this is where I wanna be, so I have faith that [agent Pat Morris] and Garth can find common ground.”
As far as player comments go in the midst of negotiations, Islanders fans have to be happy with Bailey’s comments. The only way it his positive statement could have been better is if he said, “I signed this morning.” He wants it to get done and the team wants it to get done. It certainly sounds like it’s only a matter of time before the two sides reach an agreement.
Just because he hasn’t been under contract doesn’t mean he hasn’t been preparing for the season. The 21-year-old has specific goals for improving next season and taking the step from young prospect to bona fide NHL contributor. Bailey told the Islanders official site that he’s been working throughout the offseason to ensure he’s ready for the long NHL regular season:
“I want to be more consistent. I think there were some things I was happy with and definitely some things I want to improve on. I’ve changed my training this offseason and came in with a different mindset. I’ve gotten quicker and lost a little bit of weight, trimmed down to be leaner, but more muscular.”
Consistency will be key if Bailey expects to take the next step in his career. The Bowmanville, ON native managed 28 points in 70 games last season. The 11 goals and 28 points both represented minor setbacks from the 2009-10 season—even more so from an organization hoping to see him grow into his spot in the NHL. Surely, it didn’t help his NHL statistics that he was sent down to Bridgeport for 11 games last season either.
The tour of duty in the AHL may have been exactly what he needed to get his confidence back though. Remember, this is a guy who was drafted 8th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft before being rushed to the NHL. He had 96 points in his final season in the Ontario Hockey League—so the kid can score. Perhaps he needed a few weeks in the AHL as a reminder that he’s a talented player who can produce points when called upon.
Bailey is the quintessential example of a player who is in line for a “second contract.” The team still believes that he has the talent to grow into a good NHLer. But to this point, he hasn’t earned a contract that would be equal to his potential. A two-year contract would buy the Islanders an opportunity to see what Bailey can do and would give the player a couple more years to prove his worth.
From the sounds of it, it’s only a matter of time before both sides reach an amicable decision.