New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello keeps things incredibly close to the vest, especially when it comes to dealings with his personnel. It's for that reason it was more than telling when he spoke about the future of Josh Bailey, the team's longest-tenured player.
On May 1st, Bailey sounded like a player that knew his time with the only organization he has ever known was coming to an end after being a healthy scratch towards the end of the regular season and in all six playoff games. On Tuesday, Lamoriello all but confirmed that his inclinations were true. "In Josh's case, it looks like, maybe it's near the end here [Long Island], said the Islanders GM, who will be back for a sixth season.
Lamoriello is known for his loyalty to players, and some would say he's been loyal to a fault with some over his Hall-of-Fame career as an executive. However, when asked about that being a factor when considering Bailey's future with the team next season, he didn't mix words. "Loyalty will never get in the way of impeding progress. We will work with him to help him," added Lamoriello when speaking with the media. "My priority is doing what's best for the team."
Bailey has spent 15 seasons on Long Island. He became a man here met his wife here, and created a family here. It will be tough for him to move on, but as a hockey player, he feels he has more to give. Whether the Islanders are able to find a trade partner for Bailey and the $5M remaining on the final year of his contract remains to be seen. The other option is to buy out the 2017-18 All-Star and create cap space, saving $2.33M this season while carrying over $1.66M next season.
Bailey has always been a polarizing Islander, and many fans will be pleased to see him off this roster, but he has been the constant presence across multiple eras of Islanders hockey and has contributed to several great playoff and regular season moments during his tenure. If this is the end, it's unfortunate that it comes on this note, but it may be what's best for the player and organziation.