Josh Bailey and the New York Islanders will be without John Tavares for the first time since 2009. How will Bailey cope without his centerman for the last two seasons?
It’s true, Josh Bailey has had back-to-back career years for the New York Islanders over the last two seasons. And in both of those seasons, Bailey was stapled to John Tavares’ wing on the top line.
So now that Tavares has jumped ship for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, how will that affect Josh Bailey in 2018-19? Will Bailey now return to his 30-40 self from the start of his career in 2008 to 2016?
Or can Josh Bailey live on without John Tavares?
It Won’t Be Good, But It Also Won’t Be Bad
Right away, it’s easy to see how the loss of a point-per-game player will affect a player who only ever hit above 40 points in a season when he was playing with said point-per-game player.
Seeing some of the evidence from the analytics community further’s that point. Looking at HockeyViz.com’s with/without graph for Josh Bailey for last season shows just how he might miss John Tavares.
If you haven’t seen a with/without graph before let me explain. What you’re looking for is a black square and blue square with the number 91 in it. The black square represents Josh Bailey with John Tavares, while the blue square represents Josh Bailey without John Tavares.
The blue is hovering right above “bad” while the black is closer to the middle of the graph. Meaning simply, Josh Bailey is much better with Tavares than without.
So how does this become “it won’t be bad” exactly? Cause that graph paints a bad picture for Bailey and a post-Tavares career.
The goal scoring threat for the Islanders over the last two years and going forward is Anders Lee. Lee had 40 goals last season and 34 goals the season before. I figured looking at the impact Bailey had on one of the guy’s he primarily played with last season could shed some light on how he might do in a post-Tavares world with the same player.
In 2016-17 Bailey was the primary assist on ten of Lee’s goals. Bailey added another three secondary assists. That easily the most on the team. Tavares accounted for four primary and seven secondary assists.
In 2017-18 Bailey and Tavares tied for the lead with eleven primary assists and seven secondary assists on Anders Lee goals.
Bailey was still a good driving force offensively when on the same line as Anders Lee. In 2018-19 if that connection stays then Bailey should still be able to perform, maybe not to 2017-18 levels, but at 2016-17 levels seems reasonable, like my co-Expert Matt O’Leary indicated earlier.
Of course, there’s more than just how Bailey will play with Anders Lee that will decide how well he does. Whoever plays center with Bailey will go a long way.
Unfortunately, Bailey will be judged on how many points he puts up. If he keeps up the connection he had with Anders Lee he should still put up a reasonable number of points in 2018-19.
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Josh Bailey is going to miss John Tavares, and it’s going to show in the points column. But with Anders Lee still on his wing, Bailey can still be productive. Going back to what he used to be won’t take place, but he also won’t be at the levels we saw last season.