Hawks Insider

Blackhawks place Josh Bailey on unconditional waivers for purpose of buyout

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NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks acquired forward Josh Bailey and a second-round pick in the 2026 NHL Draft from the New York Islanders in exchange for future considerations, the team announced Thursday morning.

About an hour after the trade was announced, the Blackhawks placed Bailey on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. If he goes uncleared — which is the expectation — Bailey will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"I have great respect for Josh’s career and him being a vet in this league," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said. "Didn’t necessarily see a clear path to a role for us, so better to give him the opportunity to find that elsewhere than kind of be in and out and not have a true role with us."

Islanders GM Lou Lamiorello had been on record saying he wanted to do right by Bailey when it was understood that he would be traded. I imagine Chicago and New York agreed on the buyout before executing the deal.

Bailey, 33, registered 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 64 games last season for the Islanders. He has spent all 15 NHL season in New York, where he's appeared in 1,057 games and has 184 goals and 396 assists for 580 career points.

It's a pure salary dump for the Islanders, who were looking to shed Bailey's $5 million cap hit from the books. He has only year left on his deal.

The Blackhawks, like they've done in the past, leveraged their cap space by taking on Bailey's contract in exchange for a future asset. They will eat the buyout penalty, which is a $2.67 million cap hit in 2023-24 and $1.67 million in 2024-25.

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