There was some concern with Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and the rest of the New York Islanders with John Tavares gone. Those two have proved the haters wrong.
All summer long I was told that Josh Bailey and Anders Lee would crumble, like the rest of the New York Islanders, with the departure of John Tavares. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not nieve the team would be better off with a point per game player at center on the top line instead of Brock Nelson, there’s no denying that.
The one area where everyone was mistaken was assuming Josh Bailey and Anders Lee would turn into a puddle without Johnny. That rhetoric has already been shut down 10 games into the season.
Names like Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau come to mind when thinking of players who benefited from playing alongside J.T. Neither of the two put up the same numbers before or after they played with him so to assume it was the doings of Tavares is completly fair.
Many thought that the same thing would happen to the likes of Josh Bailey and Anders Lee. So far, it’s been the exact opposite.
Josh Bailey, after putting up 71 points last year, has 11 points in 10 games. He’s on pace for 90 points and somehow this man is still a punching bag on social media. At this point, he could cure cancer and there would be people complaining that he didn’t figure this out years ago. You can never win the #BaileyIsGoodBattle against the Twitter trolls, and that’s a fight for another day.
The main takeaway here is Bailey showed over the past two years that he’s developed into a top-six player, not just because of John Tavares but because his skill set was more productive in a top-six role than on the third line with Nikolai Kulemin and the legend Mikhail Grabovski.
The same goes for Anders Lee. In his last 173 games, he has 78 goals and yet some people believed that the best net-front presence guy in the league would forget how to deflect and pick up loose pucks. It’s maddening really.
Before you give me Lee’s goals coming on the power play let me remind you that he’s on a record high assist rate. Lee’s career high in assists is 22. He’s on pace to blow that out of the water. Of course, I expect his assist numbers to come down to earth a little but the two of them, Bailey and Lee, will likely finish with 60 or more points without 91 centering or “carrying” them.
Anders Lee and Josh Bailey are quality hockey players and they’re showing it by playing with a less-skilled center. The New York Islanders are in fine shape with these two in their top-six for, hopefully, years to come.