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Bailey, young Islanders excited for future

by Travis Betts / New York Islanders

The Islanders locked up another home-grown core player to a long-term deal Monday.

Josh Bailey agreed to a five-year contract that will keep him with the club through the 2017-18 season. The signing gives the team three players on the current roster, along with fellow Islanders draft selections Travis Hamonic and John Tavares, who will wear the Orange & Blue for at least five more seasons.

“Obviously I’m very excited,” Bailey said. “I have to thank the organization – Charles Wang and Garth Snow, as well as the whole coaching staff – for believing in me and committing to me for another five years. It’s a really special, incredible feeling.”

Islanders General Manager Garth Snow extended a verbal vote of confidence to the forward the Islanders selected ninth overall in the 2008 NHL Draft.

“Josh has become an important member of the young core of the players we have in our dressing room,” Snow said. “We’re excited to come to terms with him on a deal that will ensure he is a member of this team as we solidify ourselves as consistent playoff contenders.”

In 2013, Bailey posted 11 goals and 19 points in 38 games, registering the highest points-per-game total of his five-year career. The 23-year-old lit the lamp nine times over the final 20 games of the season, helping the Islanders reach the postseason for the first time since 2007. Bailey says the team’s upward-trending arc and the excitement surrounding the team’s success were big reasons to sign long-term with the Islanders.

“I think everyone who was a part of that, whether it was the players or the fans, could feel that energy at the Coliseum,” Bailey said. “It was nice to give the fans something to cheer about. We certainly didn’t accomplish anywhere near our goal, but I think being a part of that and seeing what it could be like, certainly it was a great feeling and something we want a lot more of going forward.”

The month of July has been a busy one for Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, who has inked several key players to long-term deals. Hamonic signed a seven-year deal earlier this month, and newcomer Cal Clutterbuck, who was acquired in a draft-day trade, signed a four-year contract. In past offseasons, with the future of the team up in the air, getting players to sign long-term was a challenge. But with the team’s future secure in its upcoming move down the road to Barclays Center, Bailey said the decision to sign was easy.

“The players know (the move to Barclays Center) is happening,” Bailey said. “And we’ve still got another two seasons at the Coliseum. I love living on Long Island and I love the people. It’s home to me now. I’m certainly excited for everything that’s to come in the next five years.”

Nine players on the current roster are signed through the 2015-16 season, which will be the first for the Islanders in Brooklyn. Along with Bailey, Tavares, Hamonic and Clutterbuck, also making the move west are Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Brian Strait.

Bailey beamed when thinking of all he hopes the team can accomplish over the next few years with a young core of talent locked in place.

“Getting a taste of the playoffs last year, we all want that again and much more,” Bailey said. “That was just a small sample of what it takes, and it was a learning process for us. It’s going to be a battle like that every season, but one that we’re all excited about.”

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