If have been keeping up on Twitter, it appears like it's only a matter of time before the NY Islanders announce a series of moves. Those moves will likely include signing their restricted free agents (Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov & Kieffer Bellows) as well as making the unrestricted free agent Nazem Kadri signing official barring any unforeseen circumstances.
In order for the Islanders to remain salary cap compliant with the plethora of moves in the hopper, it appears one or more players may have to be traded and the names that have been on the rumor mill are Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier.
Seller beware in a potential Bailey trade
Moving any player this off-season that carries a heavy cap number has not been an easy task. Look at the Oliver Bjorkstrand trade between the Seattle Kraken and the Columbus Blue Jackets as an example, Columbus was only able to garner a third and fourth-round draft pick in 2023 from Seattle despite the 27-year-old wingers' production over the last three years. Bjorkstrand's cap hit of $5.4 million is not odious, yet this was the best Columbus could do keeping Bjorkstrand's 10-team no trade list in mind which probably didn't help the Blue Jackets.
Given how inflation seems to have affected the NHL trade market and not just your wallets, it sounds like the Isles are going to have to include something else attached to Bailey in order to trade him. If Lou Lamoriello goes the route where he trades Bailey, he should be careful as to just how much he forks over in addition to the soon-to-be 33-year-old winger.
The Islanders have traded away a lot of draft picks these last few years in the last two trade deadline deals in exchange for J.G Pageau, Kyle Palmieri & Travis Zajac, as well as unloading Andrew Ladd and his cap hit last summer. The Isles top prospect Aatu Raty who fell to them in the second round of the 2021 Draft is a prospect that cannot become a casualty of a Bailey cap dump. Raty is currently the team's No.1 prospect and there is a lot to be excited about in terms of his future with the blue and orange. The Islanders' prospect pool is not exactly overflowing with talent at this point and time.
Despite the fan theory that Bailey has no value, it is still abundantly true that he's a solid middle-6 forward. He accrued 44 points last season in a year where seemingly nothing went right for the Islanders. Add the fact that Bailey has 71 career playoff games under his belt and scored 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) in that span, you can see why teams would covet him as an asset. His contract at $5 million for the next two seasons maybe brings his value down a little, but not enough that the Islanders have to add a first-round pick or a top prospect in order for another team to acquire him.
Believe it or not one could make an argument that trading Beauvillier and his $4.15 million cap hit might be the better way to go. In a potential Bailey trade, Lamoriello should avoid forking over a least high draft pick and maybe something else. Given Beauvillier's age (25), his ceiling potential, and his past playoff performances are proof enough that Beauvillier can fetch valuable assets in return rather than trading more of what the Islanders don't really have. Also, Lamoriello should be able to get at least good value back for Beauvillier.
If the cost of moving Bailey is including a guy like Bellows, that would be one thing, especially given the uncertainty of Kieffer's future role with the team. But trading future high draft picks or someone like William Dufour in addition to Bailey is a dangerous move.
It might not be easy for Lamoriello to move the 32-year-old winger to another team without surrendering significant future assets. Time will tell on that. Just maybe Lou can pull a rabbit out of his hat and surprise us all, however.