There are very few players that can say they played their entire career with one franchise. Josh Bailey, who is 857 games into his career, is one of those individuals and is one of the most talked-about New York Islanders in his time.
Drafted in the first round in 2008, Bailey always had expectations and, at times, has lived up to them. The ironic part of his career is that when fans expect the most from him, they usually get the least. Bailey became a player dependent on having strong players on his line. He also has been overshadowed for much of his career playing with John Tavares and now Mat Barzal.
If he continues to play out his career with the Islanders, he will end up as one of the all-time leaders in many categories. Let’s look a little deeper into his career and what he has brought to the team.
This has been a tough season for a player coming off his best in 2017-18. He has mainly played on the second line with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, but is always one of the first players to change lines if the Islanders start to struggle.
Bailey hasn’t hit his stride this season and there are players already with 90-plus points. One reason is that he hasn’t been able to pick up many power play goals, as the special teams have struggled most of the season. He only has 38 points when he could be a point-per-game type of player. Of his 12 goals, only two have been game-winners.
His ice time has remained very high, killing penalties without Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. In a perfect role, he could become a weapon on the third line playing with Derick Brassard and one of the young Islander rookies in Kieffer Bellows or Oliver Wahlstrom if the Islanders can acquire a top-six forward. The bottom six has struggled all season, but Bailey could be the playmaker young players need for the team to be successful.
Bailey’s career high in points came during the 2017-18 season, when he was named to his lone All-Star game. For many fans, his most significant moment most likely occurred in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs – his overtime goal helped the Islanders complete the sweep. He scored a crucial power play goal in Game 2, but went unnoticed in the second round in their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Throughout his career, he has played well in overtime, scoring seven goals in the extra session, including two in his rookie season. He has also excelled in the shootout, as the Islanders have been one of the best teams in games that have gone past overtime.
Bailey also registered his first career hat trick against the Columbus Blue Jackets and ranks fifth all-time in games played (856) and assists (316). He currently has 152 goals and is 59 back of Derek King for 10th place all-time.
How Will He be Remembered?
If Bailey continues to play his entire career with New York, he has a chance to be the last Islander to wear No. 12. While his resume doesn’t rank among any of the greats up in the rafters, the Islanders like to reward loyalty, which he showed. They have also announced two new additions in John Tonelli and Butch Goring, clearly looking to expand further.
For Bailey, a Stanley Cup will likely change people’s opinions on him. He will go down as one of the best passers the Islanders have ever had. He also is one of the most successful first-round draft picks they have selected, with many recent picks not developing with the team.
He is currently in his second season of a six-year deal. Bailey will be 34 years old when he becomes an unrestricted free agent during the 2024-25 season. He has remained pretty healthy in his career and could potentially still have a decade left in the NHL.
With the Islanders winning only one of their last five games, Bailey needs to step up and go through a hot streak in the final month and a half of the season. If the Islanders can get secondary scoring from a player like him, they have a chance to be successful.
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Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor degree in journalism. Originally from Long Island, he moved to Parkland shortly after high school. Matt worked as the assistant sports editor for his school paper, eaglenews.com in college becoming just one of nine students in his graduation class to serve over 1,000 community service hours. His goal is to travel to every Major League Baseball stadium, and has been to multiple US Open finals.