Fans cannot expect every draft pick to pan out. Even more so, it is harder to realize when a player is a bust, especially a player like Josh Bailey, who, when he is on his game, can be a positive factor. However, for me, it appears the Islanders have made a mistake in signing him to a 5-year contract that gives him 3.3M per season.
Despite having some good hands from time to time, Bailey has many issues. His lack of confidence puts him out of position and maybe even worse, it pushes him to try to do too much in hopes he will find the missing X-factor.
Further, Bailey’s size (6′ 1″ 194lbs) should not be an issue considering it hovers around the NHL average, but he still has problems with being aggressive on the forecheck and protecting the puck in the offensive zone. On the defensive side of the puck, much like most Islander wingers, he is lost. Plain and simple.
Was Bailey rushed in to the NHL? Maybe. But that is hard to say. It is an argument between being rushed and a player simply being drafted higher than he should have, which leads me to my next question.
Should a first round pick (2008’s 9th overall) still have no seasons with 20 goals? I say no way, especially not with the skill level Bailey has. Again, he has shown he is capable, but something is holding him back. And again, seeing “1st Round Pick – 9th Overall” next to his name leads us to believe he needs to be doing much more.
For me, the greatest question for Bailey’s future with the Islanders is about where he fits in. Clearly, unless he has an impressive offseason, he is not a second line player. Period. Brock Nelson has proven his place in the top-six group of forwards and, being perfectly honest, the idea of Nelson, Frans Nielsen, and Michael Grabner is not the worst thing that could happen going in to next season, baring any trades or free agent signings, though we are all hoping for a 1st line player.
This leaves Bailey out of a job.
Between Anders Lee, Ryan Strome (a potential second like center), Cal Clutterbuck (not meant to score more than 20 goals), Colin McDonald, and Johan Sundstrom the third line and overall bottom-six are clogged up. This doesn’t even consider prospects like Victor Crus Rydberg, newly acquired Sebastian Collberg (playing in Europe), and even the oft-forgotten David Ullstrom coming in to the mix.
If Bailey is going to continue to score between 10 and 20 goals and around 20 assists per season, he may be wearing another sweater pretty soon.
In my opinion, Bailey has one a year to prove himself before the idea of a trade or buyout is thought about.
So, have you bailed on Bailey?
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