New York Islanders Josh Bailey is having a career year. With 49 points in 66 games, Bailey is on pace to exceed his previous career high by a total of 20 points. He still isn’t that elite winger, though, not yet at least.
The argument happens on the daily amongst New York Islanders fans, is or isn’t Josh Bailey an elite winger. Is or is he not the winger that John Tavares has needed stapled gunned to his wing since 2009? I say no. Not yet at least.
It’s not because I believe Josh Bailey is bad at hockey and that somehow what he’s done this year isn’t worth anything. It’s that the sample size for the case ‘against’ is stronger than the ‘for’ camp.
Bailey was drafted by the Islanders ninth overall in 2006. Since, he’s played eight full seasons (excluding this season) in the Islanders Blue and Orange putting up 93 goals and 157 assists for an average of 12 and 20 (rounded up) respectively.
Skip to 2016-17 and Josh Bailey is on pace to almost double his seasonal points average since he joined the NHL. Does a single season compensate for the last eight?
What He’s Done This Year
It certainly helps. With his 12 goals and 37 assists, Bailey has been the most consistent forward for the Islanders since opening day. It hasn’t been John Tavares or Anders Lee. Bailey has been the guy since day one.
While the other two have picked up the pace significantly since the Isles terrible start to the season, Bailey is still putting up points on the board. In his last five games, Bailey has six points.
An argument can and has been made that Bailey is a product of Tavares. This year Bailey has been on the ice with Tavares for 87%* of his 5-on-5 time and he’s putting up record numbers. Compare that to 34% for 2015-16 when Bailey put up his lowest full-season totals since 2010-2011.Rather coincidentally, or not, I prefer not, Bailey’s numbers spike back up in 2014-15 when he shared the ice with Tavares 65% of the time.
If anything this just shows that Bailey is exactly the winger that Tavares needs.
What Will It Take
I started by saying that Bailey isn’t an elite winger, yet, because of his years showing the opposite. Eight years versus a single season shouldn’t be enough to bump a player up to a whole different level of players.So what’s it going to take?
So what’s it going to take?
At least one more year. That’s it. Just another season at 60 points and I’ll be ready to say that Bailey is an elite winger.
Because for all I know this is just a flash in the pan that can’t be sustained throughout his career. Josh Bailey hasn’t been a 60 point player at an NHL level ever. One season doesn’t
Another year side-by-side with Tavares putting up similar points and I’ll gladly agree that Bailey is the elite winger that the Islanders have needed for Tavares for eight years.