Islanders: How Rare Is Josh Bailey’s Late Career Bloom?

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 17: Josh Bailey #12 of the New York Islanders plays the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 17, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 17: Josh Bailey #12 of the New York Islanders plays the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 17, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey is a late bloomer, hitting his stride from his age 27-30 season. How rare is that?

Josh Bailey’s tenure with the New York Islanders has been extremely bizarre. The team selected him ninth overall in the 2008 NHL Draft and he instantly jumped into the NHL. Now, usually, guys taken outside the top-three take some time before making the leap into the NHL.

Having someone go ninth overall and then make the leap into the NHL is asking a lot. He played 68 games that year and had 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists). The next year, his age 20 season, he took a little bit of a step forward putting up 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists), and he kind of plateaued from there.

28, 32, 19 (lockout-shortened season), 38, 41, and 32 where his point totals over the next six seasons. It appeared that Bailey was just going to be a 30-40 point player that frustrated fans with turnovers and underachieving.

But something strange happened in the 2016-2017 season. At age 27, Bailey had a then career year with 56 points, passing his previous career-high by 15 points. It took until his ninth year in the league for him to hit his stride.

Usually, when you look at a prime of an NHL forward it’s from age 23-27. After age 27 it usually begins to dip down in terms of production. Not for Bailey, like a fine wine he only got better with age.

He followed up his 56 point season with 71, 56, and 43 points in 68 games before this year came to a stop. Going from a 30 point player to a 50-60 point player seemingly overnight in your late 20’s is not something that happens very often in this league.

In fact, usually, it’s the opposite. You are more likely to go from a 50 to 30 point player from your mid 20’s to late 20’s than what Bailey did.

Regardless, Bailey has turned into a very reliable middle-six forward. I wouldn’t say he’s a top-line winger by any stretch but a solid second-line winger who can set up your goal scorers? Yes.

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Going from unanimously hated to a fan favorite is almost more impressive than going from a mediocre player to solid. Almost.

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