Josh Bailey Earned His Contract With The Islanders

You know, it should go without saying that some fans will never be happy with what the Islanders’ do. We demand acquisitions for big names, while asking the higher-ups to spend money that doesn’t belong to us. We kick and scream for an added veteran presence, but fail to realize what is actually right under our noses. Both of these combined is why I feel it’s absolutely ridiculous when Islanders’ fans completely ridiculed Garth Snow and Co. for the five year, $16.5M contract they handed to Josh Bailey.

Admittedly, Josh has not yet lived up to the billing of his 9th-overall selection. Last season’s performance, a performance that had Bailey playing at a .5 PPG pace, was not necessarily the output you would desire from a former top-10 pick.  What most Isles’ fans fail to realize, however, is that Josh Bailey is a proven NHL-Veteran who was signed a contract worth market value.

So, why complain? Because he hasn’t yet panned out? At 23-years-old, has Josh Bailey proven so little that you’re willing to give up on him, solely because of his draft status? Because quite frankly, that’s the only argument you have (and face it, if that’s your argument, then Travis Hamonic could be just as easily argued to have been first-round worthy that same year).

Fact is, despite his imperfections, Josh Bailey was a key-contributor that helped lead the Islanders to their first playoff-berth in six years.  While we criticize Josh Bailey for not being the top-10 pick he was selected to be, let’s try to pick up on some of the things that he does, in order to get a full understanding of Josh Bailey’s value to the Islanders’ organization.
Josh Bailey, the Producer
We try so hard to diminish Bailey’s offensive talents. It’s true, Bailey runs hot and cold, but those who focus on the bad are the ones that tend to ignore any of Bailey’s accomplishments.

Josh Bailey is yet to topple 35 points in a single season, and is yet to produce more than 16 goals over an 82-game campaign. However, look at what Bailey accomplished in 2013.

Despite missing the first 10 games due to a knee injury, Bailey achieved a point-per-every-other-game pace for the first time in his career. Bailey compiled 19 points in 38 games for the Islanders in 2013. Yes, the sample size was small, but Bailey should be credited with adding a goal-scoring touch that he had not demonstrated in his previous years as a pro.

Josh scored 11 goals in 38 games, putting him 5 goals short of his career-mark (16) that he set during his rookie season, despite playing 35 fewer games than his 73 appearances in 2009-10. If Bailey is going to win a spot on the Islanders’ top-six, he’s going to have to improve on this pace going forward.

While Bailey has been slammed for his offensive performances throughout his NHL-career, it should also be noted that:

1)      Josh’s line (Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo) finished 16th in the NHL with 16 goals, outscoring most top-lines in the NHL. Bailey was the highest goal-scoring forward on this line.

2)      Josh Bailey is 6th in points for his entire Draft class, meaning the Islanders have the 6th-highest point-producer selected in 2008. He’s producing, even if it’s at an almost every-other-game pace.

Bailey, the Defender
As we completely dismiss any of Bailey’s accomplishments, perhaps we should diminish his defensive capabilities, too.

It shouldn’t matter that Josh Bailey has played very well in a two-way role, right? It should be completely ignored that Bailey finished third on the Islanders in takeaways (17th in the NHL) during the 2011-12 season. It should also be ignored that Bailey finished 6th on the Islanders in takeaways during the 2013 season, only 9 takeaways fewer than Kyle Okposo, the team-leader.

Playing 16:22 per games, Bailey also led Islanders’ forwards with a +7 rating, making him one of three forwards (Michael Grabner +2, Casey Ciizkas +0) to finish the season without a minus. No, it’s not a tell-all statistic, but should it really be dismissed, especially since Bailey spent most of last season on the Islanders’ top shutdown-line?

The Islanders, who struggled mightily on even strength during the regular season (they were a distant 29th in Even Strength goals for/goals against), finished the season 19th in 5 on 5 goals for/goals against ratio. Bailey was on the ice for 16 even strength goals, and the best 5 on 5 goals for/goals against ratio of any Islanders’ forward.

Bailey, the Bargain
Josh Bailey will be a member of the New York Islanders for the next five years, meaning he will have played his tenth season when his new contract expires.

While we saw completely absurd contracts being handed out by other teams (see Clarkson, David), Bailey’s $3.3M cap hit is going to look like a steal, especially during the final two years that would have been Bailey’s first two eligible as an Unrestricted Free Agent. A player with Bailey’s versatility (even strength, special teams’ roles) with a 50-60 point upside could potentially be much more burdening on the salary cap in a few years.

So, Isles’ Fans…What are your thoughts on Josh Bailey now?

-CT

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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