Josh Bailey, hero in a long line of heroes

Islanders C Josh Bailey, with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his last seven games, is playing up to his first-round pedigree.

Want to walk through (recent) hockey history? Check out the Wikipedia stub of Islanders first-round picks.

Here’s a sampling: Potvin; Gillies; Bossy; D. Sutter; B. Sutter; LaFontaine; Bertuzzi; Luongo.

Into this long line of Long Island legends has stepped C Josh Bailey, the ninth overall pick in 2008.

Overshadowed earlier this season by teammate C John Tavares — the first overall pick in 2009 — Bailey has been the most productive offensive player in the NHL since the calendar flipped to 2010.

The Islanders have played five times in the new year, going 4-1 and upping their overall record to 20-19-8. They’re now tied for 8th in the East. They have scored at least three goals in each of the five games. And Bailey, 20, has keyed this newfound offensive prowess. His totals for the five game stretch: three goals, seven assists, +5. Moreover, four of the five games were multi-point efforts for him.

Is it a fluke? Absolutely not. For one thing, there’s Bailey’s pedigree to fall back on. For another, he has scored in binges before. In the five-game stretch from Nov. 20-27, he lit the lamp in four of five matches.

What’s not to like? Well, Bailey is a center, so it might be tough to roster him if you’ve devoted your C slots to undroppable forces such as Henrik Sedin or Jonathan Toews.

Also, Bailey does not contribute in three key categories: shots on goal, penalty minutes and power play points. His power play prowess may be improving though: Bailey has three PPPs in his last two contests.

However, Bailey bandwagon jumpers need to remember that from Nov. 11 to Dec. 21, he went 18 games without a PPP. That time frame is significant; it overlaps with his previous four-goals-in-five-games binge from Nov. 20-27. All four of those goals came at even strength.

And so, insofar as fantasy hockey is a game you win by rostering scorers who also contribute in other statistical categories, Bailey may not be the wisest center to add.

Still, his recent scoring binge — 12 points in seven games since Dec. 29 — makes him worth monitoring (if not outright adding) in all formats. He is still available in a whopping 96 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 97 percent of ESPN games. Get him on your rosters or start scanning those Islanders box scores — starting Saturday night vs. Buffalo.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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