New York Islanders: Josh Bailey Expectations 2018-2019
With the New York Islanders season exactly two months away, we’ll start to look at expectations for 2018-2019 starting with Josh Bailey.
It was a career year for Josh Bailey in the 2017-2018 season after having a career year for the New York Islanders in 2016-2017. Bailey escaped from the depths of hatred from most of Islanders fans on social media over the past two years and deservedly so.
He’s been exceptional the past couple of years and finally seems to be coming into the player the Islanders were hoping for when they drafted him in 2008. Last year Bailey finished the season with 71 points (18 goals, 53 assists) in 76 games played.
Most of the way last year he was a point per game player, but even if he kept up the pace he finished with and played the six more games for a full 82 games, he would’ve finished with a 77 point season.
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His play yielded him a six-year $30 million ($5 million AAV) contract extension. For a player who put up 127 points over the past two years, that’s a bargain deal.
The question now becomes how will Bailey do without John Tavares. Bailey joined Tavares on the top-line starting in 2016-2017, his first very good season in the NHL. Now that Tavares is gone it could potentially change things for Bailey.
Line chemistry plays more of a role than people expect. What Lee – Tavares – Bailey had was pretty special, I don’t think people realize how effective that top line truly was.
We know that he won’t be playing with Tavares, but there’s no guarantee that Bailey even plays with Anders Lee in 2018-2019. It’s a fair assumption to think that both Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle move up to the top line taking the center and right wing role.
Then you can either have Anthony Beauvillier up there, which he showed to have great chemistry with those two last year or have the 40 goal scorer Anders Lee on the left wing. You can argue for both sides realistically but I would prefer to keep Beauvillier with Barzal and Eberle.
That way, at least Bailey is heading into the season with one of his linemates from last year on the second line. Who centers that line is another question mark. It’ll likely be either Brock Nelson or Jan Kovar who they just signed out of the KHL.
Nelson isn’t a good center, he’s proven that the last two years. To me, Kovar is the better choice but since he’s never played in the NHL there’s no way of knowing how he’s going to play at this level.
With all the question marks at the forward position, I think it’s a fair assumption that Bailey’s point production decreases in 2018-2019. What benefits Bailey is his contract is so team-friendly that he doesn’t have to put up 70 points again for him to have a successful year.
As long as he eclipses 50 points I think you’d be happy with it at $5 million for next year, and despite all the changes that he’ll see I think he hits that mark pretty handily. I think Bailey finishes the season with 62 points.
14 goals, 48 assists (62 points)
That’s extremely productive for a second line player and I’ll sign up for that right now. The loss of Tavares will likely hurt him but if you pair him with Lee he’s proven to work well with him so I wouldn’t split those two up.
Bailey heads into the season as the longest tenured Islander. If he gives you 62 points and decent play on special teams you should be very happy that he’s here for another six years.