The final numbers were more or less what Bob McKenzie originally reported: six years, $30 million, with a cap hit (or average annual value) of $5 million per season. Later on Friday, TVA’s Renaud Levoie (he of the SHOUTING OF THE WAIVERS), broke down the year-by-year salary payouts for the deal.
So Bailey’s taking cash on the barrelhead for the first few years, then diminishing to more reasonable numbers. We don’t know if there’s any no-move or no-trade protection on the deal, but if there isn’t, those last two years would be potentially more palatable for a team with cap space but maybe not the desire to shell out a ton of dough in salary.
But that’s a very long time from now. Bailey obviously re-signed with the only team he’s known because he wants stability, and from the sound of his quotes from Friday, he got the peace of mind he was looking for.
“I thought right from the beginning, I wanted to give it every opportunity to stay. Going into the year that was my focus, I said that from the beginning and meant it,” Bailey said on Friday. “My family and I wanted to get it done here. Now it’s an exciting time for us and a relief at the same time.”
Bailey: “There’s lots of things that go into make those decisions, now especially having a family. It’s a great place to raise your kids, it’s a great place to live, so that side of it was easy. The hockey side was easy too; this is obviously all I know." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) February 23, 2018
Incredibly, Bailey could be in line for a vaunted place in the Islanders history books by the time the contract is over. He’s played 697 games for the Islanders over 10 seasons, rarely missing any time due to injuries. Should that trend continue...
At the end of Bailey’s six-year deal, he could mathematically surpass Bryan Trottier (1,123) for the most games played in franchise history and would trail only Billy Smith for the most seasons played in franchise history (17).
Bailey, the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft, has scored 121 goals and 247 assists for the Islanders. His last two seasons have been by far his best, with each seeing him set a new career high for points, 56 last season and 62 already this season 20 games remaining. Bailey played in his first All Star Game this season.
Okay, okay. But how does this affect John Tavares? Well, first of all, it seems the captain sees Bailey as much as an influence as a linemate:
“He’s been here a long time and has developed into an all-star and a great player and a leader in the locker room,” Tavares said. “Guys really look up to him, including myself. So great to see him get rewarded and continue being an Islander for a long time. I know he’s excited and I’m sure his game will only continue to get better.”
On Sportsnet’s Hockey Central, John Shannon told a no-doubt shocked Canadian audience that, in fact, some players like playing on Long Island. I know! Crazy, right?
HC at Noon: Weighing what Josh Bailey's extension means for John Tavares. pic.twitter.com/oXt1443Sd9— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 23, 2018
Shannon later clarified his statement that Bailey’s re-signing might keep Tavares on the Islanders, only to bring us back to the ancient texts we should all have tattooed on our brains by now.
I’m told the Josh Bailey signing will not have any effect on NYI re-signing John Tavares. JT has told all involved he wants the wait until the end of the season to meet with Owner Scott Malkin.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 23, 2018
As Dom said yesterday, if you either haven’t been a Bailey fan from the beginning or not changed your mind over the last two seasons, this contract probably won’t alter anything. As long as he plays alongside Tavares, the Who Made Who question will always remain, and most will assume it’s the center benefiting his winger. Maybe it is. But Bailey’s visibly a different player than he was back then, clearly more confident with the puck than ever and capable of creating his own offense, as well as being a contributor on special teams.
We talk often about guys wanting to cash in once they hit unrestricted free agency, using that time to really set themselves and their families up for life with the biggest contract they’re probably ever going to get. So here we have a first time UFA coming off his two best seasons and an All Star appearance riding shotgun on one of the top offenses in the NHL, knowing he could be a sought after commodity on the open market. And he chose to leave years and money on the table in order to stay with the Islanders because he likes it here.
We’ve come a long way from the chain workout, baby.