New York Islanders Should Let Bailey Walk, Sign a Goalie or D-Man
By Tim Ryder
The New York Islanders are going to be faced with a few huge decisions this offseason. There will be hard truths to face and tough choices to make, no doubt. Here is where I stand on Josh Bailey.
Josh Bailey has finally developed into the player the New York Islanders have been waiting for. After showing flashes of brilliance in small spurts over his first eight seasons, Bailey has emerged as one of the best passers in the Eastern Conference this season alongside John Tavares and Anders Lee.
His contract expires at the end of this season and it will probably take around $6 million per year to secure his services as he enters the prime years of his career. Whether or not Bailey gets a hometown discount from the team that’s patiently waited for him to blossom into the player he’s become is yet to be seen.
In all the contract-years, in all sports, that I’ve ever seen, there haven’t been many like the year Josh Bailey has put together for the Islanders this season. If he continues at the pace he’s been on all year, minus a few dips in production, he may price himself out of the Isles long-term plans.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing, considering the New York Islanders will need to re-sign both Anders Lee and, presumably, Jordan Eberle after the 2019 season. The $5-$7 million per year that it would likely take to sign Bailey could hypothetically be used more efficiently in other areas of need.
What direction could the New York Islanders go if they don’t re-sign Josh Bailey?
Ok, so let’s say the New York Islanders decided to part ways with Josh Bailey after this year. In theory, things wouldn’t be all that different. If it were up to me (which it’s not), Jordan Eberle would head up to the first line, Brock Nelson would play his way onto the second line, ending up to the right of Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.
The Isles would have a little extra coin in their pocket after replacing Bailey’s spot on the roster in-house. Which problem areas of the Islanders could that money go towards? A handful. For the amount of money they were planning on paying Bailey, they could go out and get a front-line, free-agent netminder this summer.
They could also look to add another top-four defenseman, which they will desperately need once Calvin de Haan (and possibly Thomas Hickey) moves on after the season. Investing some funds towards shoring up the top half of the Islanders defensive corps could be a lifeline for a team with so many young defensemen.
What are the options for the New York Islanders?
With Jaroslav Halak‘s contract expiring at the end of the season and Thomas Greiss having lost the coaching staff’s confidence over the course of this year, the New York Islanders would be hard-pressed to find a more efficient place to upgrade than at goaltender.
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There will be some big names available through free-agency this summer. Guys like Cam Ward and Antti Niemi are nice options but they’ll be expensive and they’re both well into their thirties.
Ward’s $3.3 million salary will likely inflate to $4 million or more, and Niemi’s won’t too far behind that.
Younger, cheaper options would be players like Anton Khudobin, currently backing up Tuukka Rask in Boston, Antti Raanta, and my personal favorite, Jonathan Bernier of the Colorado Avalanche.
All of these goalies will likely be looking to move on and the New York Islanders should thoroughly investigate the idea of bringing them in.
Defensively, three options I really like for the Islanders would be veteran Mike Green, Jack Johnson, or John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. Green would be pricey for a guy entering his 33-year-old season but would be a huge addition to the Isles defensive corps.
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Johnson is also getting up there in age and is also looking to increase his $4.3 million yearly paycheck. I really enjoy watching Carlson play. He’s only 28 years old and would fit very well alongside Ryan Pulock on the Islanders second defensive pairing, in my opinion.
The money the New York Islanders would be saving on Josh Bailey could obviously be used in any number of ways. Let’s just hope Isles GM Garth Snow has thought of all of this before I did.