The Toronto Maple Leafs can expect a new addition to the lineup shortly when Casey Bailey
arrives. Bailey, who signed an entry-level contract with the Leafs on Saturday, joins the team from Penn State University. He is the first Nittany Lion to sign an NHL contract since the program's creation in 2012.
A native of Anchorage, Ala., Bailey has been crucial to the growth of the Penn State hockey program. He scored the first goal in program history and was the school's first player to receive a postseason player conference honour, earning an All-Big Ten First Team nod. He was also a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award.
He led the Nittany Lions with 22 goals and 40 points this season.
"He's a big bodied guy that has had an excellent year in college. His release is something you'll notice right away. He gets the puck off very well and gets himself in a position to shoot," said Leafs GM Dave Nonis. "The pace of the game is going to be different, obviously. It's a big change for a young man coming out of college. That'll be something he has to adjust to, but we think he's a good prospect and we're thrilled to have him."
Bailey will forego his senior season at Penn State to join the Maple Leafs. He recorded 45 goals and 80 points in 96 games with the Nittany Lions. He also led Division I players in shots on-goal this season with 211 — an average of 5.7 per game.
"I'm extremely happy for Casey," said Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky in the team's press release. "He's a great guy and a great player who had a great year. He deserves a lot of credit for his commitment to our objectives with and without the puck, and for the amount of work that he put into the weight room this summer and throughout the season with (strength & conditioning coach) Cam Davidson. We obviously would have loved to have him back next year, but at the same time this is a great step for our program. We will all follow Casey's success in the NHL with great pride."
Bailey will now leave one of the NCAA's youngest programs for one of the NHL's oldest. He is expected to arrive in Toronto this week and could make his debut with the team as early as Thursday against Florida.
"I am truly fortunate and humbled by this opportunity to sign with such a prestigious Original Six organization, the Toronto Maple Leafs," said Bailey to Penn State Athletics. "I would also like to acknowledge how thankful I am for all of the love and support I have gotten over the years from my friends and family. I would not be where I am today without them. Also I would like to sincerely thank all of my coaches, teammates and staff at Penn State for getting me prepared for the next stage of my career."
Via Penn State Athletics:
Casey Bailey signs with the Toronto Maple Leafs
Casey Bailey: The First Nittany Lion to sign an NHL contract