Islanders: Trading Josh Bailey might sting but might be necessary

Josh Bailey #12 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Josh Bailey #12 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

We know that St Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko is on the trade block. And we know that the New York Islanders are looking for more support up top, even before losing Jordan Eberle to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Moving for Taraseko makes sense.

The Isles also have to bring in a top-four defenseman to fill the gap left on the blue line when Nick Leddy was traded to the Detroit Red Wings.

Yesterday, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required) indicated that Josh Bailey could be traded to both create enough space to bring in Tarasenko and maybe send enough value back to bring in that top-four D.

It might be necessary for the New York Islanders to move Josh Bailey

I know seeing “trading”, “Josh Bailey”, and “necessary” in the same title might excite some portion of the fan base who haven’t yet gotten over Bailey’s first eight years with the Islanders. But this isn’t a “Bailey isn’t good enough to keep so move him” piece.

This is about trading a player that still has some value but moving him could help necessitate the upgrades the Isles are looking for.

Over the past five years, Bailey has put up 261 points in 362 games (0.72 pts/game). That ranks Bailey 75th in terms of points per game for forwards over that period. That may not be “elite” but it’s pretty darn good. Not to mention Bailey’s 39 playoff points rank seventh in playoff scoring since 2018-19.

Bailey is a valuable player that can be used anywhere in the Islanders top nine on either wing or down the middle. He’s also used in every situation. Since Barry Trotz arrived, Bailey’s ice-time is third at 5on5, fifth on the power play, and fifth on the penalty kill.

(Time on ice from NaturalStatTrick and for forwards only.)

So again, this isn’t about moving a player that’s surplus to requirements. Bailey is a valuable member of this team. But if moving Bailey allows the Islanders to bring in a bonafide top-line sniper in Tarasenko and address their gap on the left side of their blue line, they have to.

Losing Bailey would sting. Not just because of everything I just said, but he’d be leaving the team as the third longest-tenured Islanders ever. He’s 141 games away from passing Denis Potvin (about 1.7 seasons) and 204 games away from passing leader Bryan Trottier (about 2.5 seasons).

But Lou Lamoriello can’t consider that when trying to move Bailey (if he is). His job is to make his club better. Again, Bailey is a valuable player, so the Islanders can’t just move him for the sake of moving him. But getting a 30 goal scorer and a puck mover is a necessary upgrade.