It has been a difficult, yet frustrating period of Binghamton Senators hockey as they are eliminated from any post-season contention once again, and we desperately need to take some, if any, positives out of the season looking into next. One of them might be a late addition and native out of Anchorage, Alaska.
Rookie forward Casey Bailey was acquired in a nine player, blockbuster trade that took place between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on February 9, 2016 that brought 'Bails' to Binghamton. Listed at 6' 3" 200 lbs, the big 24-year-old right winger has appeared in 21 games for the Senators and has emerged as a top-tier prospect in a short span.
Bailey is one of only 13 players born in the city of Anchorage that participated in the NHL, including current Ottawa Senator Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's go back beginning with Bailey's college days at Penn State.
Early Days At Penn State
Pennsylvania State University was his home during his three years at college playing for Division I Nittany Lions. In his Freshman season, he led the team in total points averaging a point per game with 27 (14g 13a), and as a Junior in 2014-'15 with 40 points and a team leading 22 goals in 37 games, and finished fourth in scoring within the Big Ten Conference.
He was out with an injury for most of his Sophomore year before taking part in 9 contests. Bailey foregone his senior year to sign with the Maple Leafs on Mar 21, 2015, with a year shy of earning a degree in economics.
Tom has always been good with words, he nails it here. #Bod #Epi #Forever #WeAre https://t.co/tFnJhIgHlj— Casey Bailey (@BailsDeuces5) March 19, 2016
During his time at PSU, his merits was impressive that included;
- Big Ten Conference First All-Star Team, 2015
- Hobey Baker Award candidate, 2015
- Penn State all-time leader in goals (45) and points (80)
- Led all NCAA Division I men's hockey with 211 shots, 2015
- Penn State's first player to sign a NHL contract, and first player to play in the NHL
Bailey's skill set is obviously quite high, as his history at Penn State was proven by the all-time goals and points leader for the Lions. And for the most part, just under three seasons!
In The Past For Toronto
(I promise Sens fans, not going to spend a lot of time here)
Was sought after by 14 clubs then being among the most coveted college free agents on the market in 2015, coming close to signing with the Buffalo Sabres, only to have the Toronto Maple Leafs agree to terms of Bailey participating in some NHL contests. He ended up playing in the team's last six games and scored his first professional goal off of Carey Price in the last game of the season.
Bailey was cut out of training camp for the Maple Leafs last fall and began this season with the Marlies, as he scored 4 goals and added 14 assists in 38 games before the trade that brought him to the Southern Tier of NY.
At the time Bailey had this to say to him signing with Toronto:
AC: What made Toronto the right fit? That's a name...obviously you were in Bruins camp, camp with the Flames... Toronto, what made that become part of the equation?
CB: "I had a great chat with Brendan Shanahan and I really liked what he was saying about their future, and how he sees me helping them out. I'm just ready to go there and help out as much as I can, and learn and become a better hockey player." ~ 6 Sports Reporter Ashley Chase and Casey Bailey Mar 23, 2015
Currently In Binghamton
At first, BSens head coach Luke Richardson put the rookie on a line with center Eric O’Dell (18 goals, 37 points) and left winger Cole Schneider (17 goals, 42 points), and chemistry formed rather quickly. Then after that trade went down with the Buffalo Sabres involving O'Dell and Schneider, Bailey jumped around the line-up a bit before he eventually found his way back to the top line after the experiment with Michael Keranen fell through that resulted in two losses.
He was contributing with the recent acquisitions of Phil Varone at center, along with Jason Akeson, as the Senators went on a 5-2-1 tear with Bailey recording 2 goals and 5 assists, until a recent three game losing skid put a halt to everything, including losing out on the playoffs once again.
His point total is impressive after shifting around with many different player combinations, as finding chemistry is a challenge with so many alterations. But the truth is, he's had a decent year at the pro level with a combined 9 goals and 23 assists in 59 games between the Marlies and the Senators (5g, 9a) with nine more remaining on the docket.
The big bodied Bailey has a tendency to irk some opposing players off, as he plays the role as an agitator which appeals to the fan base, including mine at times. More importantly, he reads the ice well, works hard on his defensive game, has a quick, yet accurate release and appears to be locker room friendly, all good traits to have in furthering along his development.
In a recent home game, a hand full of fans were seen waving Penn State signs during warm-ups watching their star pupil, as Bailey was feeding pucks down the pike from outside the blueline. A sneak peak at his being one of the future leaders on the club? Encouraging, yet reminiscence of Ryan Dzingel's days here doing the same.
Ottawa does have a history of calling up undrafted players present day and in the past, with Dave Dziurzynski, Andrew Hammond, Andre Benoit, Derek Smith, Bobby Butler and Jesse Winchester to name a few. So there is a real opportunity for Bailey to get a call as well if he sticks around and Ottawa tenders a 2-way contract at some point during the approaching off-season. (RFA status has kicked in for those that are wondering)
I relied a random question among our #BSensGroup (Hey, we need group therapy to survive!) and here are what a few had to say on their thoughts on Bailey;
Game in and game out, I whisper to my dad that Casey Bailey is going to grow into a natural scorer that will stun the league. #AHLS7S— Ben Sperduti (@PixelGhost25) March 28, 2016
Casey is tenacious. He's quick on his skates and fights for every chance to send the puck to the net. He's eager and wants to win #AHLS7S— Tom Smith (@TheStashh) March 28, 2016
Bailey has shown significant skill and finesse in his short time as a BSen. He brings great potential and a killer shot #AHLS7S— Emily Rose (@EmilyRose474) March 28, 2016
Bailey hit the ground running as soon as he joined the #BSens! Gotta love that nice snap he has to his shot, perfect for one-timers. #AHLS7S— Alicia Strauch (@AliciaS20) March 28, 2016
I like Bailey. If one thing stands out about the kid, he's got grit and isn't afraid to step in and do the dirty work. #AHLS7S— Tom Smith (@TheStashh) March 28, 2016
It's a small sample size with just 21 games, but Bailey is someone on the radar for next season. Let's hope Casey continues to step up, as well as Ottawa does the same and re-signs him.
In doing my research for this article, the more I found about Casey Bailey, the more I found myself intrigued, beginning with his playing days at Penn State. In all honestly, I had no idea who he was before he joined the Sens. However, his play on the ice for Bingo has been impressive enough as a rookie, mind you, at a modest age of 24, to peak my interest.
This piece was fulfilling enough to be one of the better ones to date. Hope you enjoy.
Follow @BailsDeuces55 on Twitter
Cover Pic Courtesy of @AliciaS20