No. 18: Casey Bailey (Reader Rank: 26; Last year: N/A)
If you can't remember where Casey Bailey fell in our Top 25 Under 25 last year, it's because he was not a member of the Ottawa Senators until last season. Bailey was a part of the nine-player deal that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa in February 2016. So this is the first time we've been able to look at him as a Sens prospect. At the age of 24, he's a clear late-bloomer and still has something to prove at the professional level.
Bailey spent his junior years playing for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the BCHL. He then played in the NCAA with Penn State, where in his final year (2014-15) he led the team in scoring with 40 points (22G, 18A) in 37 games. Penn State finished fourth in the Big 10 that year, but lost to fifth-place Ohio State in the tournament quarterfinals.
After going un-drafted by the NHL, Bailey signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015. Aside from the Leafs, 14 other teams showed interest in Bailey, and he attended training camps for both Boston and Calgary. Although he only has one goal to show for his six NHL games with the Leafs, that one and only goal came against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in April 2015.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Bailey is a natural centre, but was also listed as a right wing by some sites, including Eliteprospects.com. He split time between the Toronto Marlies and Binghamton Senators last season, scoring 39 points (11G, 28A) in 68 games. While those numbers aren't much to write home about, his ability to play both centre and right wing could help him get a look in the NHL at some point next season.
Most scouting reports on Bailey praise him for his shot accuracy and ability to find weaknesses in the other team's defence. He's been labelled a power forward who is strong on the puck and likes to play in tight spots on the ice. There were conflicting reports regarding his skating. Some have said he needs to work on his skating and puck handling, while others said he has skates with speed and strength. Most scouts agree that he is a late bloomer, and will take some time to adjust to the professional hockey skill level.
The Sens have more than enough help at the centre position, especially with the addition of Chris Kelly. It's been rumoured that Curtis Lazar might see some time in the AHL next season, so there may come a time when the team needs some help on the bottom six. That's likely the scenario in which we might see Bailey with the Sens, aside from the pre-season.