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Islanders Top 25 Under 25: Josh Bailey, still young and evolving at #4

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Every time someone counts Josh Bailey out, he scores his way back in.

I got playoff points, haters!
I got playoff points, haters!
USA TODAY Sports

Oh, did you forget Josh Bailey is still under age 25? The New York Islanders' top choice from 2008, who has been on the roster ever since save for a brief AHL spell before he became waiver eligible, has amassed 329 NHL games before age 24.

He won't turn 24 until October, when he'll begin his third contract (terms yet unknown) and sixth season as a full-time Islander.

Though his ultimate value is still much-debated among Islanders fans, that history puts him in the top four of our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 countdown. He'll still be eligible for this list for a whole 'nother year, where he'll try to add to his career totals of 58 goals, 81 assists, 139 points.

Has Bailey turned a corner, serving as part of a key second line that carried the Isles late in the season on nights when the top line couldn't? His shooting percentage was a little higher this season (14.5%) than, but not crazily above, his career average (12.4%) thus far. The question for his offensive production has always been shots; as in, getting them.

With his role firmed up as a winger rather than a center (where he was drafted), he is not an automatic top-six forward. But he's one who has shown he can contribute and work in sync with other members of the Islanders core.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. For now, he's still one of the Islanders' best players under 25. That his position there is tenuous is either a statement on missing expectations, on better players coming up to chase him away ... or both?

How our panelists voted:

CIL KQ MikB Mark David MikeFIG Chris Dom
4 4 4 9 3 5 3 5

Some remarks from the gallery:

Chris McNally:

Ahh this should be fun. You either love Bailey or you hate Bailey. We can talk about the way he was developed, but in the end he's still only 23 and I think he took a big step forward in 2013. Fourth on the team in goals despite missing the first 10 games of the season, Bailey showed more willingness to shoot the puck than pass, although there were still times when you questioned why he didn't put it on net. If I got 20 goals, 40 points out of Bailey every season I'd be a happy man. And that's where he was headed in 2013. Question is, can he keep it going without a relapse?

Mike and the FIGs:

Hopefully he's finally rounding into the player we all hoped he'd become.

David Hanssen:

I still believe. Look, we've been over the wrongs with Bailey ad infinitum over the past four to five years, but it looks like something clicked and if you dig deep you'll see a player whose improved quite a bit over the year.

Here are a few things why I still believe he can be a good 2-way Top 6 winger: His penalties taken per 60 minutes went from a career average of about .6 and a career high last season of .7 to .1 this past season while his time on ice jumped from a touch above 12 to 13.72. He faced a higher quality of competition and his on-ice Corsi dropped from -8.79 to -1.38. Sure, playing with Frans Nielsen as your center helps but just playing with St. Frans doesn't alone account for the drastic improvements in the advanced stats.

Ed. Note: Ye doubt Frans' powers? Danger. Danger, Hanssen...

Anyway, as hinted by the comments above, this is always lightning rod topic in Islanders country. So fire away, lovers and haters all...

25U25 Spring 2013 Countdown

5. F Brock Nelson

6. F Casey Cizikas

7. W Nino Niederreiter

8. W Matt Martin

9. d Griffin Reinhart

10. d Matt Donovan

11: W David Ullstrom

12: C Johan Sundstrom

13: d Thomas Hickey

14: d Ville Pokka

15: d Calvin de Haan

16: F Anders Lee

17: d Scott Mayfield

18: g Kevin Poulin

19: d Adam Pelech

20: d Andrey Pedan

21: g Anders Nilsson

22: W John Persson

23: W Kirill Kabanov

24: d Aaron Ness

25: d Brenden Kichton

Beyond the 25: The Outsiders