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Fantasy: Josh Bailey deserves more recognition

Islanders forward having breakout season, ownership remains too low

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

What more does New York Islanders wing Josh Bailey have to do to prove he deserves a spot on your fantasy team?

This question applies to most fantasy leagues; Bailey is 23 percent owned in Yahoo as of Friday. But for all the times NHL.com's fantasy staff has praised Bailey for his consistent point production and breakout performance, it's astonishing to see his ownership figure so low this late in the regular season.

The list of what Bailey brings to the table is a long one, and seeing it all spelled out should convince more fantasy owners to take a chance on this late bloomer to bolster your championship push:

- Top-line minutes: Bailey has played the vast majority of the season alongside John Tavares and Anders Lee (LW, 40 percent owned) on the first line at even strength for the Islanders. He has 39 even-strength points, one behind Tavares (40) for the Islanders' lead and tied for 21st in the League. Most of New York's forwards started slow under former coach Jack Capuano, but Bailey scored 29 points in his first 42 games, second behind Tavares (32 in 42).

Video: NYI@VAN: Tavares buries one-timer to open scoring

- First power-play usage: In addition to prime even-strength minutes, Bailey is averaging 2:47 of power-play time per game on the first unit with Tavares, Lee, Ryan Strome (C/RW, 6 percent owned) and defenseman Nick Leddy. Bailey has 10 power-play points, one off his career high from his rookie season (11 in 2008-09). Bailey is one point away from the 300th of his career, finally reaching the potential the Islanders saw when he was taken ninth in the 2008 NHL Draft.

- Elite linemate: With 16 games remaining, Bailey has already set a career high in points (49). Tavares is, without question, the biggest reason for Bailey's breakout season and fantasy relevance. This is far from the most productive season of Tavares' career, but the Islanders captain is still ranked 22nd overall in Yahoo based on standard-category coverage. Tavares' offensive prowess, even through some early-season adversity, has helped Bailey and Lee vastly outperform expectations.

- Top 100 standing: Speaking of Yahoo's performance-based rankings, Bailey (95th) joins Tavares and Lee (72nd) among the top 100 overall. He's covering five of the six categories respectably and has especially excelled in assists (37) and plus/minus (plus-12).

- Recent success: Bailey has elevated his play since Doug Weight took over for Capuano on Jan. 17. Bailey has 20 points, 61 shots on goal and is plus-11 in 24 games since the coaching change. Fantasy owners shouldn't hesitate to roll him out on the road either; he had three assists against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and has 10 points in eight games on the Islanders' current nine-game road trip.

Video: TOR@NYI: Bailey nets Lee's gorgeous pass to tie game

- Season-long body of work: Bailey has played all 66 games for the Islanders this season, and is on pace for 61 points in 82 games. He's tied for 21st in the League in assists, the same total as 1,000-assist man Joe Thornton (37) and more than elite players like Sidney Crosby and Nikita Kucherov (36). He's third on the Islanders in SOG (149) and provides added value in leagues that count blocked shots (T-35th among forwards with 47).

- Schedule splits: When viewing NHL.com's schedule guide to the fantasy playoffs, you'll find the Islanders have a somewhat favorable path to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have 16 games left, six against non-contenders, and their home/road split (seven home, nine road) is not nearly as daunting as it was a few weeks ago. The Islanders have one game left on what has been a successful season-long road trip (5-2-1).

- Dual eligibility: Bailey is LW/RW eligible in Yahoo. Lineup flexibility is more important than ever this late in the season as fantasy owners must take advantage of every possible game in hand over their competition.

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