On the eve of training camp, Josh Bailey and the New York Islanders have reached a two-year agreement that will pay the 21-year-old forward a total of $2.1 million. Anyone who was holding their breath that Bailey and the Isles wouldn’t be able to get a deal done in time for training camp can now breathe a sigh of relief. Needless to say, this wasn’t like any of the other restricted free agent negotiations around the league.
Most teams and restricted free agents have rather flexible deadlines for getting a deal done before the season. Obviously, it’s best to get a deal done sooner than later, but they are unbound by artificial due dates that dictate the process. Some teams and players are able to reach an agreement during the previous season. Some get it done during the dead of the offseason and some get it done as training camp approaches. Still, they get it done whenever it works best for the GM and the player.
“Per Islanders team policy, any player unsigned by the start of training camp forfeits the entire season while the team retains his rights.
And it was no empty threat.
The Islanders exercised the aforementioned policy with Finnish winger Sean Bergenheim in 2006. Unwilling to accept what the Islanders were offering him, Bergenheim was forced to play the 2006-07 season in Europe.”
The new deal comes with a $1.05 cap hit per season for the Islanders. To put that in perspective, Bailey is the 10th highest forward on the team—making about 200k less than P.A. Parenteau this season. Yet at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. His NHL salary surely looks a lot better than Sean Bergenheim’s European contract in 2006.
The Islanders have been busy over the last few days. It was widely reported that the team and superstar-in-making John Tavares reached an agreement on Wednesday—a deal he signed on Thursday afternoon. Afterwards, the team turned their attention to a more pressing matter as they worked to hammer out Bailey’s contract. One may question the order in which they signed the former first round draft picks, but the team was able to get both players under contract before training camp started. All’s well that ends well.
Now that the off-ice issues of the offseason are finally behind them, the Isles organization can look forward to molding their young players into a competitive team. Bailey may not be a star on the team, but he provides decent depth and will use the next few years to mature into a productive NHL player for the future. If he can improve on that 29 point average he’s put up over his career, the next contract will make $2.1 million look like a stepping stone.
Right. Because $2.1 million is a stepping stone nowadays.