The protected lists are in for the 2021 Expansion Draft, and the time to speculate has finally come. The biggest names left off the New York Islanders’ protected list are arguably Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle.
Both players’ contracts are very similar based on the length and AAV. For Eberle, it is three years at $5.5M; Bailey is at three years at $5M. If Seattle takes the Isles’ best available player, it is one of those two. And both individuals have been very productive through the years.
Many, including myself, were surprised to see Bailey left off the protected list. He ranks fifth in franchise history in assists with 349 and third in games played with 919. He’s a career Islander who fans either love or feel like hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft expectations. Whether you like the Bailey or not, he has been a very strong player for the Isles during his tenure. It would be especially tough to see the 31-year-old in any sweater that isn’t blue and orange.
The move to expose him means that the Islanders were able to protect Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, keeping their “Identity Line” intact as long as they can resign pending UFA Casey Cizikas.
It feels like most fans are planning on the Seattle Kraken taking Eberle, but as the draft day approaches, the name surfacing from the Isles roster who could be gone is Bailey.
According to DailyFaceoff.com’s Frank Seravalli and TSN1260’s Jason Gregor, Bailey jumps off the board.
“This is none of my opinion, I went through all 30 teams with 3 NHL front office members to get a consensus on who they think will get picked.” Seravalli noted earlier this morning. “I have Josh Bailey from the Islanders. $5 million bucks isn’t crippling for what Bailey brings. He has a chance to give you higher output/higher ceiling.”
“”I went with Bailey as well,” said Gregor. “People think stylistically he fits in better and their scouts are gonna like him more.”
🎶 HEEEEEEYYYYYY JOSHHHHH BAILLLLEYYY 🎶 pic.twitter.com/Nl7wfFEd2z— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 20, 2021
Now there is the possibility of neither Bailey to Eberle being selected, but g.m. Lou Lamoriello will need to have a deal with Seattle’s Ron Francis to have them select a different player. If there is a deal in place, it could be Leo Komarov or Thomas Hickey, two players with contracts the Isles could get rid of to add even more cap space to the $19M they have opened up. But no one knows what Lamoriello has up his sleeve, especially after he needed to send three draft picks to Arizona in order to get Andrew Ladd’s albatross contract off the books.
One thing seems to be inevitable: the Islanders will be losing a talented forward, such as Bailey or Eberle. Right now the feeling is Bailey is the odd man out.
That notion about will become clearer on Wednesday, when Seattle makes its selections.
Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenMandell55