Josh Bailey And First Line Minutes

By Pedro Carrasquillo

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Yes islander fans you read that headline correctly, now before you start slinging chairs at the computer screen or ask me what kind of medication I’ve not been taking, let’s take a moment to sit and examine the facts of why one could make a case for Josh Bailey to be allowed to ride shotgun with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Josh Bailey, 1st and foremost is a defensively responsible forward which would help add a little bit of defence to a prolific scoring line, which at times we all saw get exploited for its lack of defence by all 3 forwards.

Along with the defensive capability of Bailey he brings his pass 1st mentality to the top line. In all actuality, Bailey is a pass 1st player almost to a fault. despite him going missing for long periods of time during the season he managed to rack up 30 assists. 30 assists is a pretty respectable number and is one that stands to increase if he is on a line with players who can shoot the puck like Okposo and Tavares can. Also, lets not forget that Josh Bailey can score, he has a great release on his wrist shot and has the hands to be a dynamic scorer on a top line.

Another point that we can make in Bailey’s favor, is that he already has proven success playing on a line with Kyle Okposo. Now with Okposo finally proving he can play on a top line with Tavares, i think the finesse and crafty playmaking that Bailey brings to a line can complement the bullish style that Okposo brings to the table. Although there are points in favor of Bailey getting top line minutes, there is also the simple fact that he’s really done nothing to deserve them and his lack of consistency could cause the whole top line to slump at times. But that’s why having up and coming forwards such as Anders Lee or Brock Nelson is nice, because if Bailey were to struggle, he could be replaced by another forward with skill and high upside.

I firmly believe that the Islanders have come to a point of where it’s time to sink or swim for Josh Bailey to sink or swim, is he a top 6 winger in this league? or is he destined for sub 40 point seasons mired in inconsistent play? I personally don’t think it’s totally out of the realm of possibility for Bailey to put up 50 points and chip in with 15-20 goals. It’s all about Bailey finding that consistency that has eluded him in his career thus far. If he can find it, he will be hearing the praise of the Islanders faithful, if he can’t then he will forever be known as that player who never lived up to his draft status.