What do Islanders fans think of Josh Bailey? That's a question that, if asked, will garner a variety of different responses from the team's fan-base. Some will tell you that Bailey, the Isles 9th-overall selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has been a bust during his five-year stay on Long Island. Others will tell you that Bailey was rushed into the NHL at the young age of 18-years-old, but has found a way to be one of the most productive selections in his draft class.
No matter you opinion, Bailey's here for another five seasons after signing a long-term extension over the summer. Again, the new deal created the same, opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum responses generated from the aforementioned question.
It's all for naught.
Bailey's heading into his sixth NHL season with the most hype surrounding him since 2007-08 - his rookie campaign - and for good reason. Josh had a great [half] of a season following the NHL lockout - one which he ended on a high note, as Bailey potted 10 points in his final 12 games before the playoffs. Charging into 2013-14 with a head full of steam, now, Bailey is primed to have a breakout season for the Islanders.
We never really had a chance to see a confident Bailey in an Isles uniform. From the start of his career, Josh has been shifted around by coaches and hammered by fans, all while failing to produce up to his draft status. Bailey was a centre or a winger - a player that we knew what we should expect of, but had no idea how to get what was expected out of him.
The Isles brass wanted him to be a true playmaker. They wanted him to be a top-six forward with tremendous offensive upside. Perhaps he was even meant to be the guy - Tavares was not a thought when Bailey's name was called by Garth Snow in Ottawa.
It wasn't until the very end of 2011-12, however, when the Islanders stuck Bailey on a line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Suddenly, Bailey found his confidence.
The inconsistency that plagued Bailey throughout his career had faded. He was putting up points on a nightly basis, including a six-game stretch where Bailey registered 12 points. Since the first game of his six-game point-streak (March 17, 2012) Bailey has scored 32 points - three points shy of his career high over a 49-game stretch.
The 2013-14 campaign should be Bailey's first full season with true confidence. He has familiar linemates, both whom he has shared success with as an individual and as a unit. Their line combination finished higher in scoring than half of the league's top lines, an ode to Bailey's sudden ability to produce goals almost every third game. That "prowess" was demonstrated again in New Jersey on Thursday night, when Bailey beat Martin Brodeur with not one, but two shorthanded goals in the recent preseason tilt.
Bailey can keep it up. It's his time.
On October 4th Josh will be 24-years-old. He will step on the ice as one of team's expected veteran leaders, top producers and top special teams' players. Coach Jack Capuano has confidence in Bailey to succeed, and I have confidence that Bailey will become a star for the Islanders this season.
Do you think this is Josh Bailey's year?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!