Islanders' Bailey is ready to take a step forward

The SportsXchange

There are teams across the NHL ready to spend money on high-profile free agents such as longtime Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, or to trade away a slew of prospects for a star scorer such as the Columbus Blue Jackets' Rick Nash.

The New York Islanders have the need for such players, but they aren't in the market for those type of stars.

Strapped with a more stringent budget than some of the league's big-market teams, the Islanders will continue to be patient with their assembled young talent, hoping their offensive holes will be filled with in-house options or low-cost additions.

Josh Bailey, who mostly has been a disappointment since the Isles drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2008, is one of those players.

Already entering his fifth NHL season, the 22-year-old Bailey believes a shift from center to left wing late last season -- resulting in 18 points in his final 20 appearances -- might have been the kickstart needed to get his career untracked.

"I certainly feel like I have something to prove," Bailey told Newsday at a recent golf outing on Long Island. "I don't think I've hit my stride yet. The way the season finished, I felt like I got to show myself and show what I can do a little more.

"Obviously, I want to continue that for a full 82 games."

Bailey, who thrived on the left side of center Frans Nielsen and right wing Kyle Okposo, added that he has spoken since last season ended with Isles general manager Garth Snow about remaining on the wing to start the 2012-13 season.

"I think you're seeing a natural maturity," Snow told Newsday. "The thing about Josh is he's such a smart hockey player. He can play all three forward positions. He can seamlessly fit in the lineup and help the team win."

Bailey added, "I know what I can do. I'm confident in myself, and I know the organization believes in me. I think it's just time that I really need to take it to the next level."
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