I've thought a while about when and how to do individual "report cards" on the Islanders of this past season. (Translation: I've sat in the hot tub, cigar and Pilsner Urquell in hand, thinking, "You really should recap the season at some point, beyond that year-end Islanders awards post and that Islanders by the numbers thing.")
We could have started this as soon as the regular season ended (barring laziness), but I'm a (lazy) fan of the NHL playoffs whether we're in or not, and I wanted to get my playoff licks in while they happened.
All sarcasm aside, I do like the idea of saving these for slow days and the dog days of summer. So we'll slip them in this month (and next?) whenever we're not salivating over the draft or wincing at local politics.
With a little
theft inspiration from the great Japers' Rink and Mile High Hockey, among others, our Islanders report cards (and poems) start now, with Josh Bailey. Kindly vote your own grade in the poll at the end (but not before reading the brief rundown at the "Continue reading this post" jump, of course).
#12 / Center / New York Islanders
Oct 02, 1989
1st year of entry-level deal: $875k + bonuses for $1.725 cap hit.
What, not Filatov/Schenn?
Random Fact: Bailey went without a shot on goal in five of the season's final six games.
"This is our concern, Dude" Fact: Bailey, the Islanders' #2 center of the future, finished just 41.1% on faceoffs. Hire Mike Sillinger as a faceoff tutor, anyone?
The Story: Josh Bailey was a smooth-passing junior and great character center who the Islanders scouts loved. With the Islanders out of the picture for the "big three" two-way defensemen in the 2008 draft, they saw the chance to move down -- twice -- in exchange for much-needed, system-stocking picks, while still getting a kid they wanted. That understandably distressed a fair amount of Islanders fans, but after one year the still-open verdict on that move looks at least potentially good. That said, the scenario put quite a burden on Bailey, a burden only amplified when they kept him with the big club.
The Good: Bailey's character proved to be strong as billed. He's said all the right things, acclimated well to the veterans, soaked up lessons, made heady plays that impressed scouts. While many of us thought he should keep developing with his likely (and eventual, it turns out) 2009 champion Windsor Spitfires junior club, a pre-season injury kept him with the Islanders until he was healthy in November. The Isles kept him past his 9-game trial, burning the first year on his entry-level deal and not even releasing him for the World Juniors. That's two missed chances for the "championship" experience. We'll never really know whether that mattered. Despite all that, Bailey acquitted himself quite well. There is no reason to think he won't become what the Islanders projected.
The Bad: Faceoffs and shooting, as noted above, are still a work in progress. He improved in both categories as he settled in, and he's stated a committment to work on his shot. His scoring and points went through empty stretches, befitting a #9 pick playing in the NHL at age 19. The hip flexor injury that delayed his start may have set him back, but it also may have allowed him to settle into the big-league environment. Overall, we want more consistency; that is always a rookie's biggest hurdle.
The quiet, classy number 12,
His start to the season shelved;
With rehab and time
Came passing sublime
The next Doug Weight? Time will tell.
The Grade: Here is where I'd like your help. I'm not issuing a grade -- let's come up with a grade through your votes. Obviously we won't get the volume of a Japers' Rink community report card, but we can come up with something. Next year 'round this time, we can look back and compare (we'll likely be twiddling our thumbs during next year's playoffs, too).
You know what he did this season. So please vote on Bailey's year relative to your expectations of him before the season. Maybe you think it was awful because he should have been in juniors leading a champion. Maybe you think it was great because you thought he'd be in juniors, so anything at the NHL level was a bonus. While I'd prefer you stick to the player rather than how the team handled him, it's your vote -- it's crazy, I know, but someone once told me Internet polls are not scientific. If there is nuance to your vote, or you just feel like explaining yourself ... you know what to do in comments.