It’s been a year of highs for right winger Josh Bailey and now he has a new contract to back it up. The New York Islanders veteran has signed a six-year contract extension that will see him earn $5 million per season over the span of the deal. It’s a nice result for a player who is currently wrecking his own personal records as an NHLer.
Riding shotgun with captain John Tavares and the underrated Anders Lee, Bailey has already established career-highs in points (62) and assists (47) and is just one goal away from tying his previous best of 16. He played in his first All-Star Game this year and like most hockey players, he gives credit to his linemates for helping him break out.
“I get to play with great players every shift in Johnny and Anders,” Bailey said. “The three of us seem to mesh really well together and our power play has taken strides, too.”
And the credit goes both ways. Tavares, a mainstay at All-Star get-togethers, is proud of how his liney has evolved as a player.
“He’s been a big reason why I’ve had a lot of success the past number of years,” Tavares said. “To see the maturity of his game and him as a person and how relied upon he is on the ice and in the room, it’s great.”
Perhaps most fascinating here is that when Bailey first joined the Islanders, it appeared as though the franchise was in danger of rushing him into the big leagues too soon. Keep in mind, Bailey went straight from the 2008 draft to the NHL, during a fallow period for the Isles that would see the franchise finish fifth in their division five straight years.
The adjustment was tough for Bailey and for awhile there, the ninth overall pick looked like his potential may have been stunted by coming up too soon. But Bailey continued to get stronger and the arrival of Tavares took a lot of pressure off the youngster. For their part, the Islanders never lost faith.
"Josh has become one of the core members of the New York Islanders," said GM Garth Snow. "He has developed within our system for several years and it's exciting to see him mature into the player we always had the confidence he would become."
Now armed with some long-term security, Bailey can get back to helping the Isles battle for a playoff spot in the hotly-contested Metropolitan Division. That's the immediate goal, but it's impossible not to mention that the free agency fate of buddy Tavares is still up in the air. The captain, if you hadn't heard, can walk away from the franchise in the summer – but he could also re-sign, just like Steven Stamkos did with Tampa Bay.
In locking up Bailey, Snow has yet another reason to entice Tavares into staying. With Matt Barzal basically a lock for the Calder Trophy at this point, New York has the makings of an exciting forward corps for years to come, not to mention some decent pieces on defense. If the goaltending situation gets sorted out, this team can do some damage.