TORONTO — Like many of his Islanders teammates, Josh Bailey always looks forward to a road game against the Maple Leafs, and for the same reason. He is from here. He grew up near here. “It’s a special place for me. I grew up watching them play a lot and dreamed of playing there one day,” he said.
In hockey terms, though, he has only one home. Bailey has been an Islander his whole career and apparently wants to keep it that way. He is “closing in” on a multiyear contract extension with the team, Bob McKenzie of Toronto-based TSN reported Thursday. The report said the deal will be for five or six years with an average annual value of $5 million.
That would be a reward for Bailey becoming an All-Star for the first time in his 10-year career. It also could be interpreted as a sign of good faith toward Bailey’s close friend, linemate and fellow potential unrestricted free agent John Tavares. Bailey was not available for comment after the game.
“I think it would be great,” Doug Weight said of a new deal. “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.”
Mathew Barzal was thrilled at the prospect. “For me as a young guy, I’d love to have him here for as long as possible so I’m super excited that they’re close to getting a deal done,” he said.
Martin continues to sit
Former Islander Matt Martin has been a healthy scratch for a team that has not had a need for an enforcer. “What happens in this sport is when you get out and the other guys play good and you win, sometimes you don’t get back in right away. That’s just the way it is,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a good pro, he works hard, he’ll be ready . . . He’s an important guy on our team.”