The Ottawa Senators' Josh Bailey celebrates his goal against the...

The Ottawa Senators' Josh Bailey celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets with teammates Vladimir Tarasenko (91), Jakob Chychrun (6) and Jake Sanderson during the second period of an NHL preseason game on Oct. 5 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Credit: AP/JOHN WOODS

Surely, Josh Bailey was the most disappointed person not to be playing on Thursday night when the Senators faced the Islanders at UBS Arena.

This could have been Bailey’s homecoming after 15 seasons with the Islanders. But the Senators did not extend a contract to Bailey after he attended their training camp on a professional tryout offer and had a goal and five assists in six preseason games.

Bailey’s former teammates, too, were disappointed - both for him and that they didn’t get a chance to play against the Islanders' former alternate captain.

“We were hoping that was going to be the case,” captain Anders Lee said. “We were all cheering for him in that regard. I know he had a really good camp and played some good hockey. It wasn’t able to be worked out. Bails is such an important part of so many guys in this room’s career and friendship and camaraderie as a teammate, it’s a bummer that it didn’t work out.

“It would have been great to see him on the ice, still going and playing.”

Bailey, 34, the ninth overall pick in 2008, played 1,057 games for the Islanders — the third most in team history — with 184 goals and 396 assists.

He had eight goals and 17 assists last season but was a healthy scratch for 10 of the final 12 regular-season games and for all six playoff games in the Islanders’ first-round loss to the Hurricanes.

Bailey made it clear after the season he did not want to return to the Islanders in a limited role.

President/general manager Lou Lamoriello traded Bailey and a second-round pick in 2026 to Chicago for future considerations on June 29. Chicago promptly bought out the final season of Bailey’s six-year, $30 million deal, making him an unrestricted free agent.

But there was not much of a market for Bailey, prompting him to accept a PTO from the Senators.

“I was cheering for him,” Mathew Barzal said. “I love him. One of my favorite teammates. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out. I thought he played well in the preseason, I watched a few games. I wish he would have made it.”

“A lot of us were keeping tabs on him through camp and he looked good,” Kyle Palmieri said. “Sometimes it’s more of a business and with the salary cap and stuff like that, they weren’t able to make it work. But who knows? I wouldn’t say that everything is done. I’m sure Bails is staying in shape and if he gets the call he’ll be ready to go. Whether or not it’s with another team, I do think this organization and what Bails and his family have done for it is very well deserving of the honor of a special night for him.”

Defenseman Noah Dobson added, “I’m sure it would have been a cool moment for him if he was playing with the Senators.”

There’s little doubt the Islanders will eventually have a night for Bailey at UBS Arena.

But Barzal said it’s always more exciting to go against a former teammate on the ice.

The Maple Leafs’ John Tavares, the Kraken’s Jordan Eberle, the Avalanche’s Devon Toews and the Canucks’ Anthony Beauvillier are among that group.

“It’s fun,” Barzal said. “You get a smile. You see them, you make eye contact. Any time you play a former teammate, you’ve had a lot of good times. Even with Devon Toews [Tuesday] night, we were laughing a little bit on the ice. I have a hard time keeping a straight face with some teammates. I enjoy playing against the former guys.”

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