After much speculation that he was the odd man out this summer, it appears Josh Bailey will in fact remain with the NY Islanders for the 2022-23 season. The current longest-tenured Islander is on track to eclipse 1,000 NHL games, all as a member of the Islanders, skating in 993 games across 14 seasons.
The speculation arose that Bailey was expendable largely due to not owning trade protection and costing $5 million against the cap for the next two seasons. With Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello claiming he wanted to make roster upgrades, it seemed logical the veteran was going to be on his way out. However, after seeing the cost of moving a player such as Sean Monahan (with a first-round pick attached), it appears Lamoriello wasn't interested in trading future assets to offset Bailey.
Despite the fan criticism, Bailey still holds value. He serves as an alternate captain for the Islanders, a team that prides itself on being a close-knit group. But if Bailey wants to justify his value, he'll need to be much more consistent on the scoresheet than he was last season.
Mostly skating in the Islanders' top-6, Bailey accrued 14 goals and 30 assists last season. However, far too often did he go missing from the scoresheet, and further he became a liability on the ice to boot.
Bailey has always been a playmaker, but even playmakers have to shoot. A recurring theme began to form last season when Bailey opted to pass in multiple must-shoot situations. The silver lining here is that in the last ten games of the season, Bailey started shooting more scoring six goals in his last 11 games. He shot 17 pucks in that span averaging a 35.3 S%.
Heading into 2022-23, NHL Network projects Bailey on the Islanders' top line with Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee:
It's a line we've seen before, but with a "new voice" in charge, it's time to make the same forward group at least look different. Bailey's a perfect third-line NHLer and should flank J.G. Pageau's (18 goals, 39 points last season) right with Zach Parise (15 goals, 35 points last season) on the left. Now that Lane Lambert is in charge, elevating Oliver Wahlstrom to the top-6 should benefit the shooter-happy 22-year-old forward, decreasing Bailey's role which could work out in his favor as well.
He shouldn't be, but if Bailey is playing in the Islanders' top-6, that means the expectation is that he banks 60-points minimum. He'll need to play with finishers around him as a playmaker, as well as shoot as often as he did in his last stretch of games. At this point in his career, however, he should slot in on the third line where 45-50 points are plenty in a bottom-6 role, especially if he's receiving second unit power play time. That's about what the expectation should be for Bailey this season with the assumption Wahlstrom and Kyle Palmieri will be ahead of him on Lambert's right-wing depth chart.