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Edit: Drafted 52nd Overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
Joining the Kitchener Rangers as an OHL Rookie this season, its been an interesting year for Buffalo native Justin Bailey. Early in the year he suffered a concussion after taking a big hit from Patrick Sieloff and missed several games. Even after he came back a couple of minor injuries would cost him more time early in the year. However once he was able to get on the ice full time and adjust to the OHL, he became a contributor to the Rangers offense and part of a good team that finished 4th in the OHL’s Western Conference. The Rangers bowed out of the playoffs to the eventual OHL Champion London Knights in 5 games in the 2nd round.
Bailey is another player blessed with good athletic genes. He is the son of former NFLer, Carlton Bailey, who appeared in three Superbowls with the Buffalo Bills, before also playing with the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately, Justin doesn’t have a great relationship with his father and prefers not to talk about it, giving praise to his mother, and maternal grandparents for raising him. However Justin didn’t have to look far for other sports role models in his life as he and his mother lived in the same condominium complex as Rob Ray, Matthew Barnaby and Mike Peca growing up. Bailey would also have his midget team coached by former NHL Superstar Pat Lafontaine.
Bailey has dual citizenship as his mother is Canadian, however he has chosen to play international hockey for the United States, as he did at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Born Jul 1 1995 — Williamsville, NY
Height 6.04 — Weight 185 — Shoots Right
Bailey has the type of ideal size that NHL teams long for in forward prospects. He’s a little lean right now and will need to add muscle to his frame, but that is true of most teenagers who have his height. Bailey has a tremendous arsenal of shots. His snap shot and wrist shot are both lethal and feature the type of hair trigger release that drives goalies nuts. His slapshot and one-timer are accurate and powerful. He has all the makings of a sniper. Bailey is strong on the puck, and his good puck protection, balance, and ability to win board battles makes him good on the cycle game. This coupled with his good passing skill make him a good playmaker. He is inconsistent in his physical game. While he is a battler along the boards all the time, he isn’t a big hitter all the time. It would be hoped that he becomes a more aggressive and consistent forechecker with added bulk.
Bailey skates well, with good agility and edgework. He also has very good top end speed. Earlier in the year his first step and acceleration left something to be desired, but he seems to have worked at cleaning up the choppiness of his first few steps. Bailey has good balance and power. He is strong on the puck and difficult to knock off of it.
Bailey’s defensive game has been inconsistent. At times he can play a strong two-way game showing smarts and high effort level in his own end of the ice. Other games he can seem to be a step behind the play and allows his opponent to get between him and the net. He can get caught puck watching and not moving his feet which allows his defensive game to be exploited. This seems to be more a consistency issue than a talent issue, as there are games where Bailey does everything right. Building that consistency and avoiding defensive lapses will be something for Bailey to work on. However this is not that unusual for a young player, and he should get some great coaching in Kitchener over the next few years.
Bailey’s style is comparable to a mix of Logan Couture and Jeff Carter. This is a stylistic comparison only and not one meant to be based on potential. His ceiling is become a top 6 forward capable of sniping goals and contributing offensive numbers at the NHL level.
Check back tomorrow for our number 42 prospect.
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