Josh Bailey had a breakout season for the New York Islanders in 2016-2017. It only took nine years, but better late than never.
Expectations for Josh Bailey were low from New York Islanders fans. Previous to this past season Bailey’s career high in points was 41, and he was coming off a 32 point season in 2015-2016.
Before the season I wrote expectations for some Islanders and Bailey was one of them. This is what I had to say on Josh Bailey:
“For what you can expect next year? More of the same, 12-15 goals and somewhere around 35 points.”
Boy was I wrong. Bailey smashed that point total, as he finished with 56 points on the season. A new career high in points and by far the best year of his NHL career.
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Why the Point Increase?
Bailey was a part of the Isles top line playing with Anders Lee and John Tavares. At first seeing Bailey on the top line was a red flag and a huge mark against Garth Snow for not doing enough to put the right players with Tavares.
I mean how could you put a career 33 point a season player (not including the 2012-2013 lockout shortened season) on the top line? Well, it worked out. The Isles had a top line that was competing with the best top line in the game from 2015-2016.
No seriously, the Lee-Tavares-Bailey line was as good as the Pittsburgh Penguins top unit from last year. So was playing with a 34 goal and a 28 goal scorer the reason why Bailey had a point increase?
It definitely was part of the reason but early on in the year, it was Bailey who was carrying the team.
Early Season Production
While the Islanders fell into the basement of the division Bailey was one of the few who was putting up good numbers. Through 36 games Josh Bailey had 25 points. So before the clock struck midnight and we switched from 2016 to 2017 Bails was just seven points back from his season total from a year before.
Breaking the Narrative
Bailey is one of if not the most hated Islanders on Isles Twitter. A lot of the reason was due to his lack of production and his disappearing act at times throughout a season.
What I don’t understand is the continuation of the narrative once Bailey started producing this year. I wasn’t and still am not the biggest Bailey fan out there but I’m willing to recognize when a guy is producing.
I’m not going to root for a player on the Isles to do poorly. He certainly exceeded any expectations and we have to recognize it.
If we were grading on a Josh Bailey curve it would be an A+. When you take into consideration expectations and career numbers and you look at his production this year it would have to be an A+. But that isn’t his final grade.
To give a peek behind the curtain, breaking the fourth wall if you will, my day job is a college professor. If I had a student who got all C’s and then gets an A- on an exam I can’t give them an A+ just because I wasn’t expecting that kind of increase in production.
Did they blow away my expectations? Yes. Did they do a fantastic job? Of course. But an A- isn’t a perfect score and Josh Bailey’s season wasn’t a perfect year. I hope that analogy makes as much sense reading it as it did in my head.
Final Grade: A-