Eyes On Isles – Islander Season Reviews – #12 Josh Bailey
By John Panarese
Here we have one of the “enigmas” of the New York Islanders, and a guy who can be a lightning rod when it comes to fan discussions. Some fans simply still gripe and complain about the day the Isles traded down to be able to select him #9 overall in the 2008 draft. Other fans still believe in the guy and think that it’s a matter of time and further development before we get our “full value”.
Was he rushed into the NHL as an 18 year old? Should he have been sent to juniors or played some time in Bridgeport? These are factors many Islander fans will debate until you’re blue in the face. The fact of the matter is he might have been “rushed” and this may have impacted the process of his development. It is, though, a “done deal”, and there, to me, is no point continually beating that dead horse.
Josh had a “tale of two seasons” campaign in 2011-2012. The first half of the season, he couldn’t seem to do much right and was the topic of many a negative comment in Islander country. Once again, questions about having chosen to draft him and what is “upside” truly is were posted all over the place. He was even the talk of trade rumors and some felt that it was time to part ways with the guy.
However, like all of the secondary scoring on the Islanders, Bailey came alive after the all star break. All of a sudden, moved from center to the wing, he started scoring goals and playing well. His confidence built and we, once again, saw flashes of the talent we were hoping we’d eventually get out of him.
This has always been a point of debate. For some reason, he has been put at center and the stats show that he is more effective when it comes to scoring as a winger. Perhaps it is the lack of defensive responsibility, but he is a different player when not at center. Thus, to me, to have an effective Josh Bailey, I believe that the coaches need to have him play the wing. Also, the point has been made in regard to the “quality” of line mates he has had, but, in my opinion, that has been circumstantial and a matter of necessity as the line up went each game.
In 80 games, Josh Bailey had 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points, and had a Minus 10 rating. Not an overall impressive body of work for a guy who is supposed to be a second or third line forward, but I wish I still had his stats over the last 30 games of the season. It was truly a night and day situation.
I would have to give Josh a C for his season rating, and that was rescued by his run at the end of the season. If he hadn’t come back so strongly, there would be plenty of talk of what future he would have here on the island. In fact, I think many would be calling for the team to cut ties with him and let him go elsewhere
What we need from Josh Bailey is a definitive statement next season. He needs to come out of the shoot playing well and consistently playing with confidence. I believe he still has the potential to earn a second or third line spot on this team. I think, though, that it’s going to be up to Josh to prove that to the fan base. He is truly a classy guy and the type of presence you want in the locker room, as well as off the ice in the community. However, he was drafted for his offense, and he needs to bring that every night as he did over the last 30 or so games of the season.
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