Josh Bailey seemed to find a home on the wing late last season. Now it looks as if he's there to stay.
The Islanders hope Bailey's production during the final five weeks of the season wasn't an aberration but a sign of things to come.
The 22-year-old shifted from his usual center position to play wing alongside Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo and showed flashes of the promise the Islanders saw in him when they selected him ninth overall in the 2008 NHL draft.
Although the Islanders had little to play for at the time, Bailey scored six of his 13 goals and recorded 11 of his 19 assists after March 1 to salvage what had been a disappointing season for the four-year pro.
"I certainly feel like I have something to prove," said Bailey, who participated in the Skyline Restoration's fourth annual Golf Classic at the Village Club of Sands Point Monday to benefit the Smile Train organization.
"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 said he spoke to Islanders general manager Garth Snow Monday and that both sides embraced the idea of Bailey remaining on the wing in hopes that his success carries into next season.
"I think you're seeing a natural maturity," Snow said. "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."
But Bailey, who is entering the second and final year of a $2.1-million contract, has struggled to live up to the expectations that come with being a top 10 draft pick, and that is why his late-season production on the wing was a very encouraging sign for both the organization and Bailey.
"I know what I can do," he said. "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."