Top 25 Islanders Under 25 - #8: Josh Bailey, 220 games and counting

Now we got fun. The point of this Top 25 Under 25 list, other than getting us from the end of summer into the fun and hope of the season, was to mull that ambiguous area when young players move from bits of hope to bricks of foundation. (And, in repeating the exercise periodically, to chart when those players either make that transition or fall off the radar in our collective heads.)

Or as Copper & Blue put it in the post that led us down the path of poor imitation inspired us: "...determining when one has gone from prospect to player is more a matter of half-baked opinion and guesswork than rigorous statistical analysis..."

So they, and we, draw the line at age 25. That means there will be some experienced NHLers hitting their groove near the top, along with a few top-tier prospects for whom great things are hoped. Josh Bailey, after 220 confounding NHL games (211 when this poll was taken), stands awkwardly in that transition area.

No doubt in part relative to expectations, by the end of the season Bailey could move up or -- scarily -- down this list.

Current status: 9 GP, 0 points, 5 shots on goal, -3, 47% on faceoffs, 13:43 TOI/GP, including 1:04 on the PK

These discussions are impossible to have without noting his frequent and fellow enigmatic linemate Blake Comeau, as well as Devils discard and cap mule Brian Rolston, who may or may not be feeding what's holding them both back. To be fair, both have looked better in recent games and they're not alone among Islanders forwards struggling to produce offense -- they just happen to be struggling the most through nine games.

I don't think there are many fans who still think keeping Bailey in the NHL in his draft year was the right move, but that doesn't mean the process "ruined" him. Hindered his development? Possibly. That's always an unanswerable hypothetical anyway -- and even if it were answerable, we can't know it yet.

But when Bailey's ice time was limited at times under Scott Gordon and unnamed NHL observers grumbled that they're "turning him into a third-line center," I know I found myself wondering if that was such a bad thing -- or at least a bad outcome, even if the route taken was not right. Granted, it would be great if he were a two-way checking force and offensive playmaking threat. But Bailey, drafted in part for his less quantifiable hockey traits, would please me just fine as an excellent third-line center who can swing to either role as needed.

The problem is getting there.

Currently (or before the preseason began) he averaged out to 8th on our informal Top 25 Under 25 poll. He has two years on his contract and three years before he turns 25 to change that impression.

 

How We Voted

Top 25 Under 25 mikb M11 CIL Dom KQ Web/Mark
Josh Bailey
9 7 11 7 10 8

For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking about who are the best hockey players now, balanced with who has the best potential/value long-term.

 

Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series

The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility

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