2022-23 NY Islanders Player Preview: Josh Bailey
After much speculation that he was the odd man out this summer, it seems Josh Bailey will actually stay with the New York Islanders for the 2022-23 season. The oldest current Islander is on track to eclipse 1,000 NHL games, all as a member of the Islanders, skating in 993 games over 14 seasons.
Speculation arose that Bailey was expendable largely because he lacked trade protection and cost $5 million over the cap for the next two seasons. With Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello claiming he wanted to make roster upgrades, it seemed logical that the veteran was about to leave. However, after seeing the cost of moving a player such as Sean Monahan (with a first-round pick attached), it appears Lamoriello wasn’t interested in trading future assets to compensate Bailey.
Despite fan criticism, Bailey still has value. He is an alternate captain of the Islanders, a team that prides itself on being a tight-knit group. But if Bailey is to justify his value, he will need to be much more consistent on the scoresheet than he was last season.
Skating primarily in the Islanders’ top 6, Bailey had 14 goals and 30 assists last season. However, too often he disappeared from the score sheet and, on top of that, he became a liability on the ice.
Bailey has always been a playmaker, but even playmakers have to shoot. A recurring theme began to form last season when Bailey opted to pass in several unavoidable situations. The silver lining here is that in the last ten games of the season, Bailey started shooting more by scoring six goals in his last 11 games. He shot 17 pucks during that span averaging 35.3S%.
Heading into 2022-23, NHL Network is casting Bailey on the Islanders’ first line with Mathieu Barzal and Anders Lee:
It’s a line we’ve seen before, but with a “new voice” in charge, it’s time to make the same attacking group at least different. Bailey is a perfect NHL third-line player and should flank by JG Pageau (18 goals, 39 points last season) right with Zach Parise (15 goals, 35 points last season) on the left. Now that Lane Lambert is in charge, raising Olivier Wahlstrom to the top 6 should benefit the 22-year-old striker, happy with the shooter, diminishing the role of Bailey, which could also work in his favor.
He shouldn’t be, but if Bailey plays in the Islanders’ top 6, that means he’s expected to get a minimum of 60 points. He will have to play with the finishers around him as a playmaker, as well as shooting as often as he did in his last series of games. At this point in his career, however, he should position himself on the third line where 45-50 points is good enough in a bottom 6 role, especially if he receives power play time from the second unit. That’s pretty much what the expectation should be for Bailey this season with the Wahlstrom hypothesis and Kyle Palmieri will be ahead of him on Lambert’s right depth chart.