It is a question that has baffled fans of the New York Islanders for many years: is Josh Bailey good at hockey? After a breakout season, it appears as if we finally have the answer to that question.
Welcome to “The Debaters” a series on Eyes on Isles, where two staff members take a side on a give New York Islanders topic and try to convince you which side is right. In this edition; is Josh Bailey good or bad at hockey?
Before reading the rest of this article, just know how much I love New York Islanders Josh Bailey. He has thrown me pucks before games, sent me back an autograph when I sent a picture to him, and done great work in the community. In fact, as I am writing this article, I am wearing his jersey.
But that does not mean I do not see how much he struggles at times. He seems to disappear at the worst times and seems to be absent from the scorecard for games on end. I cannot count how many times he has turned the puck over instead of just putting a shot on net.
However, even with his faults, Josh Bailey is a talented player. Just take a look back at last year and you can see how great Bailey is.
Bailey was Tremendous Last Season
While Josh Bailey may not be the best player in the world, he was amazing last season. Scoring 56 points is not a joke, and even though only 13 of those were goals, it truly was a breakout season if there ever was one.
Bailey finally stabilized John Tavares’ top line, joining Anders Lee to create the best line the New York Islanders have had in years. He was one of the Islanders best players and was a reason they finished as close to the playoffs as they did.
His .68 points per game were double his previous season’s average of .39 points per game, he notched six more power-play points and was a +5 instead of a -7.
We all know Bailey was “good at hockey” last season. It is ridiculous to say otherwise. However, next season could be a bit more difficult for him now that he will not be playing with one of the best players in the NHL.
Will Bailey Struggle This Season?
The reason why we are having this debate is due to the fact that Josh Bailey could be headed for a HUGE regression. He was great with John Tavares last season, but when he was on a line without Tavares as the center, he wasn’t great.
This season, Bailey will be playing with a different center and winger. As Matt O’Leary previously wrote in an article, the players will be a significant downgrade from Tavares.
"“He’ll be playing with some combination of Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and/or Jason Chimera. Those kinds of players aren’t going to allow Bailey to put up 50 points again.”"
While I fully expect Bailey to have another solid year, fans may start using him as the scapegoat when he struggles this season (which he inevitably will). This hate will be underserved because we all know Josh Bailey is a solid contributor to the team.
His potential 45, or even 40 points, will be greatly appreciated. While it may not be 56, Doug Weight will certainly be able to use a player of Bailey’s talents.
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Josh Bailey Is in Fact Good at Hockey
Hopefully, after reading this, it is apparent that Josh Bailey is good at hockey. He is a top-six forward for a borderline playoff team coming off a career-high 56 point season.
Who cares if he played with John Tavares? Bailey was still the one feeding the puck to Tavares and scoring highlight reel goals like this one.
It is time we stop hating on a player who deserves little hate, and root for him to have another great season with the New York Islanders. So guys, starting today, let’s all agree on one thing: Josh Bailey is a good hockey player.