27-Year-Old Left Wing – New York Islanders
Josh Bailey Contract Information:
Signed a five-year deal with the Islanders in July of 2013.
Bailey was not among one of the players that the Islanders elected to protect in the expansion draft, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
A lifelong Islander who has been a member of teams both good and bad, Bailey set a career high in points last season, despite squandering numerous chances right in front of the net to build those totals even higher. Playing alongside John Tavares for chunks of last season, Bailey scored 15 goals and chipped in 26 assists in 70 games. This season, he should play in the Isles' bottom-six ranks, though he'll at least get the chance to work with skilled, veteran linemates in Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski, who should still provide ample opportunities for Bailey to score points. While he may see a drop in his time on the power play, when given a chance with the man advantage, Bailey has shown himself to be an adept point scorer, adding two power-play goals and two assists last season. With a reduced role in the offense compared to a few years ago, Bailey is a low-end fantasy prospect who still has point-scoring prowess when provided enough opportunities.
Bailey has had an up-and-down career thus far with the Islanders. There are times where he looks like he will justify his first-round selection in the 2010 draft, and other times where it looks like he's just going through the motions. With the Islanders having acquired more depth on offense in the offseason, the team no longer has a huge stake in Bailey’s success. He’s currently ticketed to start the season on the third line, but could earn a promotion if his production warrants it. That being said, it’s no secret that the Islanders have 16 forwards on one-way contracts, which may lead to at least one forward being traded. Given Bailey’s relative youth and pedigree, it wouldn’t be surprising if a team became interested in taking him off the Islanders’ hands.
Bailey had 11 goals and 19 points in 38 games for the Islanders last year, by far his best season to date, and it was enough to earn him a long-term contract from the Isles. What was even more impressive was that Bailey finally started to look like a true offensive threat during the second half of the lockout-shortened season. Bailey will remain on the second line and there are no plans to give him playing time with John Tavares but he can still make an impact offensively playing with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. Where top prospect Ryan Strome plays - if/when he makes the team - could also help Bailey's value as Strome is the kind of player that the defense will have to account for when he is on the ice. This could make life even easier for Bailey if those two play on the same line.
Not that Bailey was ever expected to be a superstar when taken in the 1st round of the 2008 draft, but more was expected than the 47 goals he's posted over the last four seasons. Despite seeing time in the AHL to work on his game, Bailey has looked good on the penalty kill, but that's not why he was drafted in the first round. Bailey still plays on the second line as of now but once the Isles' talent in the AHL starts to make their way to the big club, Bailey could be relegated to third line duty.
Bailey was a disappointment last year with only 11 goals, 17 assists, and a minus-13 rating. His season was so bad that the Isles sent him to the AHL for a few weeks to get his game on track. This may have been a way of admitting that the team made a mistake and rushed Bailey to the NHL after selecting him in the first round of the 2008 draft. The center is still a part of the team's future and will be given every chance to live up to his top billing . He now has better talent around him, but is no better than the club's second-line center and that assumes that this year's first-round pick Ryan Strome does not make the team.
The Islanders' 2008 first-round draft choice has yet to light up the NHL but does have some value. His sophomore campaign showed improvement in all the important categories and the Islanders are starting to get better depth, which should surround Bailey with more talent. The one knock on Bailey is that he looks to pass rather than shoot. On some teams this may not be a bad thing, but with the lack of goal scoring talent around him coupled with the fact that he shoots the puck quite well, he could help the Islanders and his fantasy team by putting the puck on net more often.
Bailey was expected to call Bridgeport home last year, but the team opted to throw the rookie into the NHL mix right away. He had a quiet campaign for the most part (25 points in 68 games), but definitely showed signs of being a capable center down the road. He has been working on his conditioning and strength since the season ended, so he is already showing maturity and a desire to better himself. While you shouldnï¿½t expect a huge leap in points in his second season, a bump up is in order (especially if he centers Tavares).
Bailey is known for his playmaking ability and hockey smarts. Despite the Islanders' weakness up the middle, he is not expected to make the jump from the OHL to the NHL this year. Expect the team to give him a chance to hone his skills a bit before testing him out with the big club.