The New York Islanders will slot veteran forward Josh Bailey consistently on the second line in 2021. A move that can only be considered a good thing.
Last season, Josh Bailey bounced around the New York Islanders lineup. Used as “Swiss-army-knife” by Barry Trotz, Bailey was used on just about every line in the Isles top-nine. That lack of consistency didn’t help Bailey throughout the year.
Barry knows this. He said as much during training camp. Bailey, like just about every NHL player, performs well when he’s surrounded by consistent linemates. So can we see a return to that Josh Bailey that earned a spot at the All-Star game in 17-18?
It’s certainly possible.
Consistency is Key
We know going into the 2021 season that Josh Bailey is going to play on the Isles second line next to Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson. Without any other digging that sounds like a good spot for Josh Bailey.
Beauvillier is coming off a career year with 39 points in 68 games. That’s a pace of 47 points over a full 82 game season. Not to mention the incredible playoff run that saw Beau score 14 points in 22 games.
The same goes for Brock Nelson who had another career year with 54 points in 68 games. That put Nelson on pace for a 65 point season.
That’s just their production. Both Beauvillier and Nelson were great off the puck and were two of the most consistent forwards for the Islanders in 19-20.
Now, going into 2021, Bailey will get to play with them consistently. Going over some of Bailey’s most productive years shows that he produces when he gets a chance to stick with the same guys. (All ice-times I’m about to discuss are at 5on5 and come from NaturalStatTrick).
In 16-17, Bailey’s first 50+ point season, he played 959 minutes next to John Tavares and 673 minutes with Anders Lee on the other wing. I’ve gone on record a number of times that Bailey and Lee have this on-ice bond that shouldn’t be broken, but I know I won’t get my way with that.
Playing with someone as good as Tavares clearly helped Bailey (no-matter what my pinned tweet says), but the consistency here is what I want to highlight. Those 959 minutes with Tavares account for just over 80% of Josh Bailey’s 5on5 ice-time.
In 17-18, Bailey’s all-star season, he played 799 minutes with Tavares and 767 with Anders Lee. That’s 76% and 73%, respectively, of Josh Bailey’s total 5on5 ice-time that season.
Now, look at this past season. Bailey still performed well with 43 points in 68 games (a pace of 52 points over 82 games) but bounced around the lineup. His most consistent linemate in 19-20 was Mathew Barzal with 311 minutes (36% of Bailye’s 5on5 ice-time).
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Sticking next to two guys who are playing at the top of their games will certainly help Bailey, but it will also help both Beauvillier and Nelson. Both are players that love to get the puck on the net. They combined for 307 shots on goal in 19-20.
Bailey managed 94 shots on goal in 19-20. We know that Bailey is a pass-first guy and now he’s got two guys who love to shoot the puck and score at a 14% efficiency, combined. It’s the perfect place to slot Bailey consistently through 2021 which should result in all three having great years.