Isles’ Josh Bailey has until 7 a.m. ET Friday to sign or miss the entire season

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One restricted free agent that’s still working on getting a deal done is Islanders forward Josh Bailey. Bailey joins the likes of Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, and Kyle Turris as high profile RFAs that are still without a contract as training camp approaches this weekend. While the Kings, Leafs, and Coyotes are going to continue negotiating with their respective players into and through training camp if needed, the Islanders do things a little bit differently.

Islanders owner Charles Wang seems like a free and easy going guy, but if you want to play for the Islanders and you’re one of his restricted free agents, you’d better have a contract signed by the time training camp starts or else. As Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank pointed out back on August 25, Wang’s policy is that if an RFA is unsigned by the start of camp, negotiations are over and done with and the player will sit out the entire season.

Isles training camp starts tomorrow and Josh Bailey is a restricted free agent that’s still without a deal. Katie Strang of ESPN New York relayed today that if Bailey isn’t signed by 7 a.m. ET tomorrow, the Islanders will force Bailey to sit out the entire season while the Islanders retain his rights.

If Bailey winds up not getting a deal done, the Islanders will have a hole to fill on their third line center position. With John Tavares taking the first line and Frans Nielsen on the second line, Bailey was set to be the guy on the third line to start the year. Should Bailey be out, it could open up a spot in training camp for 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome to make a run at making the Islanders. Strome is most likely going to be heading back to junior hockey but he could help force both GM Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano to take a long look at him in camp.

Those are a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” thrown in there, but Bailey having difficulty in getting a deal worked out is a bit mystifying on its own. Bailey’s first three seasons in the NHL have seen the former first round pick struggle to find his way. His first two NHL seasons saw him score a total of 23 goals and 37 assists over 141 games.

Last season, Bailey appeared set to break out getting off to a hot start in his first five games scoring three goals and adding three assists. Bailey followed that up by going pointless in his next 14 games before being sent to the AHL for a month. After being called back up, he was held pointless in his first game back before scoring two goals and an assist against the Devils in his second game. Bailey finished the season with 11 goals and 17 assists. No details about the negotiations have come out at all, but it’s hard to imagine that things could be as acrimonious as negotiations are with Phoenix and Kyle Turris.

Time ticks away for Bailey and the Islanders. If Bailey isn’t signed, Isles training camp gets a lot more interesting to watch.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.

Video: Friday night fights between Bolts and Red Wings

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Not much offense — actually, just one goal midway through the second period as of the writing of this post — between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

But there has definitely been some animosity between the two clubs.

Tempers flared late in the first period, with Adam Erne and Andreas Athanasiou getting involved in a spirited scrap — and Athanasiou unsuccessful in his attempt at the take-down.

The bad blood continued in the second period with Greg McKegg and Anthony Mantha getting involved in a fight, and Mantha — given the instigator — landing a couple of shots with McKegg on the ice.

 

NHL, MLB player unions support U.S. women hockey players’ boycott

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Unions representing NHL and Major League Baseball players are backing U.S. Women’s National Hockey team players’ decision to boycott next week’s world championships because of a wage dispute.

The NHL Players’ Association posted a note on its Twitter account on Friday saying it supports the U.S. players while panning USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements. The NHLPA says the decision to go with replacement players “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

Earlier in the day, the MLB Players Association encouraged all women hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Read more: USA Hockey says it will not offer living wage, as dispute with women’s national team continues

The Twitter messages were posted a day after USA Hockey announced it would begin gauging interest of replacement players to compete at the tournament, which opens next Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period.

Brock Boeser Watch is officially on in Vancouver

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It’s been a bleak season for the Vancouver Canucks.

Perhaps developments Friday evening can provide some optimism for fans of a team that can’t score, has trouble defending and has been decimated by injury.

Brock Boeser’s sophomore college season came to an end Friday, as North Dakota lost 4-3 to Boston University in double overtime. The Canucks selected Boeser 23rd overall in the 2015 draft with the hopes the talented right winger would one day become a central figure in that team’s scoring attack.

In his first season at North Dakota, Boeser scored 27 goals and 60 points in 42 games. His overall production dropped in his sophomore year — he had wrist surgery in December — but he still averaged more than a point per game in 31 contests, with 16 goals.

With North Dakota’s campaign finished, the Canucks can now work to get Boeser under contract and perhaps get him into some NHL games to close out what has been a disappointing season in Vancouver.

In that case, the Canucks would burn the first year of his entry-level contract.

The Canucks, officially eliminated from playoff contention, have nine games remaining on their schedule.

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Giving the fans something to get excited about in another season gone south seems as vital as giving Boeser a crash course on what to expect next season.

The Canucks are willing to burn a year of his entry-level deal because playing one game at age 20 would do that. But it seems worth the price for an organization in transition, even if Boeser would become a restricted free agent after two seasons and be in line for a big pay day should his production match predictions of effectiveness.

The Canucks are in Minnesota on Saturday and Winnipeg on Sunday.

It seemed, several weeks ago, that North Dakota’s hockey program was preparing for Boeser to turn pro after his second year ended.

Related: Trading Burrows and Hansen represents significant ‘shift’ for Canucks