Josh Bailey will be with the Islanders when they move to Belmont, and then some. The All-Star forward agreed to a six-year contract extension, the team announced Friday.
The Islanders did not release the salary amount, but the average annual value is believed to be $5 million. Bailey might have received more had he gone on the open market with unrestricted free agency, but he chose the security of staying with the team that made him a first-round draft pick in 2008 and has stuck with him through career peaks and valleys.
Bailey, 28, is having a career year on the Islanders’ No. 1 line alongside John Tavares, with whom he said he is “great friends.” The right wing has 15 goals and has recorded career highs in assists (47) and points (62) in 58 games.
His 697 games with the Islanders are eighth most in franchise history, behind Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Bob Ny strom, Clark Gillies, Bob Bourne, Mike Bossy and Patrick Flatley.
“Josh has become one of the core members of the New York Islanders,” general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. “He has developed within our system for several years and it’s exciting to see him mature into the player we always had confidence he would become.”
Bailey has weathered criticism from fans during his 10 years with the team and earned kudos for having made the NHL All-Star Game for the first time.
At the league’s showcase weekend in Tampa last month, he pointed out that loyalty ranks high for him. “It’s obviously an honor to be named to the All-Star team and to represent the Islanders’ organization,’’ he said. “It’s something I’m proud of, for sure.”
His signing could be one more inducement for Tavares to stay with the team long-term when (or before) he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The team had either traded or said goodbye through free agency to other close friends such as Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.
As an 18-year-old, Bailey was surprised that the Islanders scheduled a pre-draft interview with him. He knew the team had the No. 5 overall pick and recognized that he was not good enough to be drafted that high. But team executives, who clearly wanted him, said they might trade down, which is what they did.
When it appeared likely on Thursday that Bailey would be staying with the Islanders, Doug Weight said, “He’s done some great things for a long time as an Islander. Consistently he has gotten better and better and has proven to be a huge part of our team.”