The New York Islanders need more cap space, and one way to do it is to trade Josh Bailey. While finding a solution for Bailey is a must this off-season, it's hard to see a trade as a winning solution for the Isles. The Islanders cannot trade any more future assets to move Bailey's contract and his 2023-24 salary cap hit.
Bailey has one more year left on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. Last summer we saw what the high cost was of moving such a cap number. Last off-season the Calgary Flames moved Sean Monahan and his $6.375 million cap hit to the Montreal Canadiens. To do so Calgary had to give up a future first-round pick.
The Isles are in no position to trade away any future high draft picks or any of their top prospects in their cupboard.
In the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft, the Islanders only have five picks. They have their picks in Rounds 2 and 4 through 7. They do not have a 1st-round pick as that was part of the Bo Horvat trade with the Vancouver Canucks and they don't have a third-round pick because that is the last piece that went to the Arizona Coyotes in the Andrew Ladd salary cap deal.
The Isles already don't have their 3rd-round pick in next summer's draft, 2024, as that went to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Pierre Engvall.
This will be the fourth draft in a row the Islanders and Lou Lamoriello do not have a first-round pick. Keep in mind while the Islanders have traded away their valuable first-round picks they have top talent on their roster from both prior seasons and present to show for it (Horvat, J.G Pageau, Kyle Palmieri, and Alexander Romanov.)
It's one thing to trade a future 1st-round pick for a proven talent such as Horvat but it's another thing to do it to free up a little more cap space. Given the state of what picks the Isles have in the next couple of years and where their prospect pool stands this is an option that doesn't make sense.
Prospect Pool & Buyout
While the Islanders currently have several prospects to be excited about (William Dufour, Matthew Maggio, Quinn Finley, Alex Jefferies, Isiah George) none of them are currently considered blue-chip prospects by the hockey world. The Isles moved their blue chip prospect Aatu Raty in the Horvat deal.
Given this, the Islanders are in no position to trade any of these kids or any future high draft picks that could turn into top or strong prospects.
The option that makes the most sense for the Isles regarding Bailey is buying him out. If the Isles buy out the last year of his contract they will get an additional $2,67 million in cap space this off-season (would have a cap hit of $1.17 for Bailey in the 2024-25 season). That would bring the Isles' cap space to roughly $8 million.
So if the Islanders were to trade Bailey and his $5 million cap hit along with a very valuable future asset versus buying him out the Isles would save $2.33 million versus the cap for the upcoming season. That is not enough of a return on investment for the Islanders and as stated above they need to hold on to all of their top future assets unless one is talking about bringing another top player to Long Island.
A buyout is the way to go regarding Bailey, not a trade.