Bailey, Botta impress in debuts

The other day I wrote that I'd be beyond shocked if Josh Bailey doesn't return to his junior team this season. So naturally today's story out of Newsday is how Bailey has impressed at camp, and his prospects for drawing an NHL paycheck this year are already better than they were two weeks ago.

When I blog, sometimes the devil on one shoulder says, for the topic of the moment, "Go on, just emit the first opinion that comes to mind." On the other shoulder is a different figure. This figure is no angel but nonetheless a little less threatening than beelzebub: an editor. And the editor in me says: "How stupid will this statement show you to be in one week, one season, one year?"

So yesterday the devil in me -- who hasn't seen Bailey play -- said: "The kid is 18, he wasn't one of the acclaimed gems of this draft, the trade-down-and-pick to get him was controversial: no way in hell he makes the team." The editor counters: "Actually, he just might make the team, but only for nine games. Almost inconceivable that the Isles will put more than that on him at this age."

Well, we'll see! The oddsmaker in me still points to his age and expectations to figure the Isles will think more long term (heck, even think monetarily, considering the value of a cost-controlled, entry-level contract) by shipping him back to juniors before game #10.

But if Bailey continues to impress, if he fills a hole created by Mike Sillinger's injury, if in those first nine NHL games he is a bright spot of what could be a tough season ...

When I read Scott Gordon comparing the situation to that of Patrice Bergeron as a rookie, the devil in me scoffed: "Bergeron is an elite player, invaluable to the Bruins! No comparison!" Then my editor checked to see that Bergeron was a 45th pick overall -- one whose only "flaw" was a lack of size. As Gordon recalled, Bergeron's play and stability forced the Bruins to keep him up at age 18.

While Bailey has a different set of assets and a different future role on the club, if he can show the same kind of character and usefulness now ...

... I'll be elbowing that devil off my shoulder, again.

The Botta Resurrection
As for the other "B" in this post's title, most visitors will already know former Isles PR man-turned-blogger Chris Botta has launched the new Point Blank. After his 40 days (okay, quite a bit more) in the post-Islanders-employment desert, he has fully returned to ascend to a role that is, frankly, more directly valuable to the info-craving Isles fan.

For the first 24 hours, a dizzying array of posts on a variety of topics. His insider access already shines through, particularly with his review of the Islander D-men and scouts' takes on them. Finding an excuse to run a photo of Alyssa Milano in heels and tight-fitting clothing doesn't hurt, either, and demonstrates an astute mastery of the Web's tried-and-true eye-candy tactic.

Between Bailey's prospects, Gordon's promise, and Botta's insider prose, this season is already shaping up to be a lot of fun.

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