Bailey's Clock Is Ticking
Charles Wang has always had a very strict rule that he has enforced since the day he bought the New York Islanders; if any player that was considered property of the organization were to not have a new contract before the start of training camp, they would be forced to miss the entire season.
It's a rule that I have always approved of since it clearly sets the tone that this is Wang's team and he won't be jerked around by players who wish to play the waiting game for more money. He's also shown that he isn't shy about using it either.
Most Islanders fans remember the year that Sean Bergenheim spent playing hockey in Sweden since he refused to accept the contract that the team had offered him. In the end, it could have been a setback in his development. Despite the strong playoff run that Bergie just had with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bergenheim has yet to develop to anything more than a fourth line forward that can play on the penalty kill.
Josh Bailey is currently the next Islander forward that is staring down this path if he doesn't accept his qualifying offer or work out a new deal over the next few days. Training camp is starting as the rookies have begun their camp today with practice having started around 11:30 this morning.
Bailey's stand-off has led many to speculate over the summer as to whether or not Islanders GM Garth Snow was dangling the 2008 ninth overall pick as trade bait. But once you look a little further and see that Bailey's agent, Don Meehan also represents other RFA's like Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn and Brad Marchand, all of whom are also still looking for a new contracts, you can see that trade bait is not the case.
In a recent article on the Islanders official web-site, Bailey stated that Long Island is his home and is confident something will be worked out:
“Since I was drafted, this organization has given me a lot. I just want to keep trying to give back to this organization and win here. All these guys are my best buddies and this is home. I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else and I don’t imagine that.
“There’s nowhere else I want to be. I obviously want to be an Islander. I think Snowy (General Manager Garth Snow) and I have always had a good relationship. I’m quite confident we’ll get something resolved and worked out. I’m ready to go for the start of the season.”
The article that these quotes were taken from also stated that Bailey had been seen on the ice yesterday at the team's informal skate.
Bailey, in most eyes, should have been the easiest RFA to get under a new contract for the Islanders. Although he is a top-10 pick from his class, Bailey has yet to emerge as a top-six forward in the three years he has spent for the organization. In fact, his best numbers only came when he was demoted to the Isles AHL farm-team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; a last minute effort by the team to help boost his development. There is no question that he possesses the tools to be the team's number-two center, but consistency has always been his problem.
A simple one-year deal would make many fans happy as it would require him to prove that he can do more than put up 30 points over 82 games. But it's unsure as to whether Garth Snow is looking to lock him up long-term like Grabner and Okposo.
The clock is ticking. Will Bailey be wearing orange and blue (or orange, black, blue and grey on Saturday's), or will he don the colors of a team overseas after failing to get a resolution to his contract dilemma?
My hunch: Bailey will be on your opening night roster.
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