In all the six(!) years of Lighthouse Hockey discourse, there have certainly been more volatile and more nausea-inducing topics than the debate over Josh Bailey. (Why trade down? Why pick? Why rush? Why not demote? Why rush? Why trust? Why keep? Why not worth Kane + Gardiner + Reimer?)
But certainly in recent times, he has been a bone of contention. The reasons are fairly intuitive: He was signed to a five-year deal paying an average of $3.3 million per, he seems allergic to getting shots on goal, and his offensively productive stretches come in maddeningly sporadic bursts.
There is some evidence that he has become accomplished defensively, however, and at the very least he is now a plus third-line winger and potentially more. (Also: He pissed of Martin Brodeur with a "disrespectful" spinorama shootout conversion.) All of the above statements (outside of the contract) have been and will continue to be debated until you want to shoot a puppy.
But at minimum, with Bailey turning 25 in October, this is the last time he'll be on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 ballot. This is a bit of a (quite welcome) swan song of sorts, as the topic is old. Bailey is averaging 1.39 shots per game in his NHL career. The Hockey-Reference comparison robot has Oleg Kvasha as his highest similarity.
Here is how we rated him before term limits push him off the ballot forever:
|CIL||Keith||Mike B.||Mark||Mike L.||Chris||Dom|
And this here is a reflection of the debate over his career:
Okay, so the offense was fluky, but I do like how his defensive game has evolved. He either needs to learn to shoot or start hitting and punching some faces soon though. Has all the talent in the world...sometimes. Can we call Canadians enigmatic?
This is an average rating. Normal Bailey is 14th; Stretch Run Bailey is 4th. If he could have four or five Aprils per season the Isles could have a few more Mays and Junes. Put it together, kid, please.
Bailey has been underwhelming thus far, aside from bursts of offensive production that leave one still hoping he can breakout. What appears more likely as he approaches his graduation from the Top25 Under25, is that in Bailey, the Isles have a player, but one that is a bottom six, defensive winger who can provide spot relief on a higher line.
Yeah, he won't be the first liner we all hoped he would be. He'll be a decent third liner, and that's not the worst thing in the world.
Wait, he's still under 25?!
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four times...
I ranked Bailey 3rd last year as he had me totally convinced he had turned the corner. Now he has me convinced he is totally average.
Assists, shmassists. Bailey scored 3 less goals than the previous season, in twice as many games played. Even worse was his shots total, which landed him 342nd in the NHL.
He's decent defensively, but somehow has managed to find himself slowly phased out of PK duty each year of his career. I'm convinced that going forward in his career, Bailey will have a spot in the NHL, but will always be the guy teams look to upgrade in the offseason.