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Josh Bailey has likely played his final game with the Islanders

Josh Bailey
Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Josh Bailey to most likely depart Islanders this summer

The Josh Bailey era on Long Island is more than likely over. New York Islanders President Lou Lamoriello spoke to the media yesterday on a variety of topics, with the 15-year veteran one of the headlines. Despite being one of the great franchise servants in Isles history, a departure has never been more likely than right now.

“Loyalty will never get in the way of impending progress or making whatever decisions I have a responsibility to make, never,” Lamoriello said. “In our situation, Josh and I have a man-to-man relationship as far as honesty and I will work with him, but my priority is doing what’s best for the team.”

Via John Flanigan, SNY

While it may not be flashy, the Islanders do have a busy summer ahead of them. They have a good chunk of free agents that Lamoriello is interested in bringing back. Forward Pierre Engvall, defenseman Scott Mayfield, and backup goalie Semyon Varlamov headline the core alongside RFA Oliver Wahlstrom.

Star goalie Ilya Sorokin‘s bridge deal is also up in 2024. Lamoriello needs to decide whether to pay up or move on from him. Part of the rationale of moving on from Bailey is unloading his $5 million cap hit. The Isles only have $5.3 million in cap space at the time of writing.

Islanders Legend

Say what you want about Bailey in 2023, but his body of work as an Islander deserves respect. Drafted ninth overall in 2008, the Canadian jumped straight into the NHL for an Islanders franchise that was nothing short of embarrassing.

While making the jump that early in his career probably messed with his development, he still worked very hard at his craft. Flash forward 15 years, and Bailey has seen the Isles go from a laughingstock to a genuinely respectable team.

He also eclipsed the 1000 games mark in the 2022-23 season. The landmark made him one of three Islanders in history to wear orange and blue for that long. His 396 assists and 580 points ranks him third and seventh in Islanders all-time history respectively.

One could even say that if the Islanders were able to overcome the Lightning in 2020 or 2021 and win the Stanley Cup, Bailey would have a clear shot at getting his No. 12 jersey retired. While that may still be on the cards, we are now heading towards a slightly ugly divorce.

More From Lamoriello

Other notes from yesterday’s press conference is that both Lamoriello and head coach Lane Lambert are under contract and will return for 2023-24. However, there might be a shake-up among the assistant coaches. That is hardly surprising considering the anemic special teams the Isles had, especially in the first round against Carolina.

Lamoriello also expressed some desire to potentially add a defenseman to this group. We did, however, see the classic Lamoriello quote of “believing in this core” come out. A puck-moving defenseman is something this team has starved for ever since the departures of Devon Toews and Nick Leddy in consecutive offseasons.

There’s a chance the Islanders get this offseason right and stay in the playoff picture. But, they will have to do everything perfectly down to the last penny.

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