Josh Bailey's forgettable 2010-11 season bled into a not-so-pleasant summer, with his agent and the Islanders far apart in contract talks as the days wound down to Friday, the deadline for Bailey to sign a contract or be barred from playing for the team for the season.
The 21-year-old agreed to terms on a two-year deal late Thursday night, beating the deadline by a few hours. Islanders club policy is no restricted free agents can play for the team if they are not signed by the opening day of training camp. The deal is worth $2.1 million, according to a source.
"I definitely feel like I have a lot more to offer this team," Bailey said after the Islanders finished their physical exams and off-ice testing at the Coliseum on the first official day of training camp. "There's nothing but improvement to be done here. I've talked a lot to Garth [Snow] and the expectations are higher, for myself and for the team."
After scoring 11 goals and assisting on 17 others in 70 games with the Islanders -- and 17 points in 11 games during a three-week stint with Bridgeport, the first time in Bailey's pro career he's spent time in the minors -- Bailey rejected a one-year, $850,000 qualifying offer in June, hoping for a longer-term commitment from the Islanders, who drafted him ninth overall in 2008.
Negotiations between Snow and Pat Morris, Bailey's agent, dragged on all summer, even after the center returned from his suburban Toronto home to Long Island last week to work out with his teammates.
Morris came to Long Island Thursday to meet with Bailey and then Snow before the contract was agreed to around 11 p.m.
"My focus has always been here, that's why I tried to keep everything as normal as possible," Bailey said. "As much as your mind can wander a little, I never thought about playing for another team. This is home."
Notes & Quotes: Steve Staios, a 15-year veteran, agreed to come to camp on a tryout basis and will arrive on Monday . . . The Islanders returned four draftees to their junior clubs following the week-long prospects camp: Defensemen Brenden Kichton (Spokane), Andrey Pedan (Guelph) and Art Bidlevskii (Regina) and F John Persson (Red Deer). The team has 50 players on the roster, 48 of whom did their off-ice testing Friday morning. F Rhett Rakhshani (concussion) and D Mark Katic (shoulder) are out.