In last night’s New York Islanders win over the New York Rangers, Josh Bailey had a three-point night. He’ll be just fine without John Tavares.
Over the past two years, the New York Islanders had a very successful top line. The combination of Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey was extremely effective and even underrated most of the time.
Now, with John Tavares back home in Toronto, many are concerned with how Anders Lee, and more specifically, Josh Bailey will play without John Tavares.
The concern, on paper, is fair. Bailey’s career high in points before joining JT was 41 points coming in 2014-2015. In 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 he had career years with 56 and then 71 points. For most of last year, Bailey was a point per game player, before getting hurt.
Last night, Josh Bailey showed why he will be successful without Tavares. Bails scored a goal and had two assists in the Islanders win over the Rangers, a team they haven’t lost to since the Obama administration.
Anthony Beauvillier, who played with Josh Bailey last night sang his praises to the media:
"“You guys have no idea how smart he is on the ice. He’s always in the right spot, he always puts the puck in the right position. There’s no words. He’s just so smart on the ice and it’s so fun to play with him.”"
There’s one key thing we’re forgetting when evaluating Josh Bailey’s past when he was “bad”. Josh Bailey was playing on the third line or in a middle six role. Guys like Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski played alongside Josh Bailey. With all due respect to them, they couldn’t hold a candle to Anders Lee or Anthony Beauvillier.
Some players just take longer to develop. Look at William Karlsson and Brad Marchand, it took them a few years to develop into the player they are today. Bailey is neither of those two players, but he’s a productive NHL player and that will continue in the post-Tavares era.
If you look at Anders Lee’s numbers, Josh Bailey assisted on 18 of Lee’s goals from last season. Bailey played a part in 45 percent of Anders Lee’s goals last year, and if you want to go back to 2016-2017 Bailey assisted on 35 percent of Anders Lee goals then too.
Those two work well together, and if for whatever reason Lee and Bailey don’t end up on the same line, Bailey can play with an Anthony Beauvillier, like what we saw last night, and still be productive.
Bailey doesn’t have to put up 70 points again in order to be considered successful. If you average Josh’s last two seasons it comes out to 64 points. That’s right around where I expect Bailey to finish this year.
When you consider he’s on the books for only $5 million, that’s great value. Anything over 50 points is fair production for a $5 million forward. Josh Bailey will be the least of the Islanders problems this year, in fact, he’ll be an asset that the coaching staff can build around.