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Taub: Josh Bailey’s Evolution as an Islander

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The evolution of Josh Bailey is an interesting one.

Always a hot button among fans from the day he came into the organization, how Bailey was poorly developed after the Isles selected him, to who the organization could have drafted instead of him and his recent success, there are always reasons why his name sparks conversation. All of that negativity has shifted though.

Entering his 11th season this year, Bailey has transitioned from whipping boy to a very important piece of the franchise. Here’s why.

Stats.

Over the last three years, the Bowmanville, ON native has been one of the club’s most productive players. Bailey’s set new career highs in goals, assists and points — his best in 2017-18 with 18 goals and 56 assists. He’s been in the top-three in points for a forward and any player on the roster. He’s notched over 40+ assists each year; only former captain John Tavares and forward Mathew Barzal have accomplished that feat. And he’s just one of five players to record 50 or more points in a season three consecutive seasons.

Smarts on the ice.

It goes without saying that Bailey has become the Islanders’ best two-way forward.

Then again over the years and till now, he always showed those flashes that he was can be a very effective player. Head coach Barry Trotz took notice of that immediately when he arrived.

“He’s a cerebral player,” the Isles coach said back in April after Bailey scored the overtime winner in game one of the playoffs. “If you’re looking for the wow factor, you probably don’t see that in Josh. What you do see is all the subtleties and sort of a thinking man’s player.”

Leadership.

Anders Lee might wear the “C” and Barzal might be the face of the franchise, but Bailey’s turned into one of the most well-respected people in the organization. It’s why the 29-year-old was named assistant captain prior to this season.

Bailey currently is the longest-tenured player on the team and has always quietly led by example.

Throughout his career with the team, Bailey has never let the team’s trials and tribulations — and his own too — change how he goes about his business both on and off the ice. Having tremendous resilience and character have made him a true flag-bearer, the type of player/human the Lou Lamoriello/Trotz regime want representing the organization.

Proving the doubters wrong.

The fan base has finally come around on Bailey, despite some who will just never give him the benefit of the doubt. These past playoffs were proof of that, when, the whole crowd inside Nassau Coliseum was singing “Hey Josh Bailey!” in unison after he scored his first career playoff OT game-winner.

Bailey’s shown for years now he’s a bonafide top-six forward that can produce with whomever he’s lined up with — not just Tavares. Only missed seven games total the last four seasons, Bailey’s proven to be very durable and reliable too.

He’s become a clutch player. Several of Bailey’s goals this past season and in recent years have come when the Isles have needed them the most.

Bailey is going to be an Islander for a long time.

He’s still signed for another five seasons and who knows, he might retire an Islander. Team legends Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Ken Morrow and Bob Nystrom are the only players to don the Islander crest their entire careers. Bailey joining that class would be a feather in his cap from how he started to his status now.

A shy 18-year-old kid when he first arrived on Long Island, Josh Bailey has evolved into something the fans, his teammates, and the organization can come to appreciate:

An Islander through and through.

Follow me on Twitter @RTaub_

 

 

 

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