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Tavares signed; who's next?

Thursday's press conference to announce John Tavares' six-year, $33-million contract extension is the biggest piece of an off-season puzzle that Garth Snow has been assembling.

Long-term deals for Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo were both big as well, but Tavares is the key to the whole thing, and now he's cemented his desire to stay. Good for both him and the team.

Now, the most pressing decision is on Josh Bailey, who needs to have a deal done by Friday morning or risk losing the entire season, per Islanders team policy. Snow and Pat Morris, Bailey's agent, have been talking, but there's still a gap. "We're still trying to find some common ground," Morris wrote to me in an email this evening.

Bailey has precious little leverage, having rejected his $850,000 qualifying offer in June. The very likable 21-year-old has been skating with his teammates this past week and seems quite sure a deal will get done. Either it's getting done tomorrow, or Bailey will have to find someplace else to play outside the NHL while the team retains his rights.

Frans Nielsen will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and is due a sizable raise over the $525,000 he'll make this season, the last of a four-year deal. Marc Levine, Nielsen's agent, said there was nothing new to report on talks as of yesterday.

But Nielsen is a top priority for Snow and something should be done before the season ends.

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