Weekly Feature



2017-07-12 / Sports

Bailey’s time is now

Williamsville native makes fifth appearance at Sabres’ development camp
PATRICK NAGY
Sports Reporter


Williamsville native Justin Bailey gets in position for a deflection during Buffalo Sabres Development Camp Saturday at HarborCenter. Bailey, a second-round pick by the Sabres in 2013, participated in his fifth development camp. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville native Justin Bailey gets in position for a deflection during Buffalo Sabres Development Camp Saturday at HarborCenter. Bailey, a second-round pick by the Sabres in 2013, participated in his fifth development camp. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville native Justin Bailey is not a stranger to participating in the Buffalo Sabres Development Camp.

Bailey, a second-round pick of the Sabres in 2013, participated in his fifth development camp Saturday through Tuesday at Harbor- Center. He was hoping to make a good impression on new Sabres’ coach Phil Housley and his staff, with the ultimate goal of making the Sabres’ roster as a full-time starter in the fall.

Making a good first impression with the Sabres is nothing new for Bailey. Since he was drafted four years ago, the Sabres have had four head coaches and three general managers.

“I think at every camp, you want to come out and impress and show that you have made strides,” Bailey said. “It adds to it a little bit with a completely new staff and mindset.”

Making the roster won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge Bailey is looking forward to. The Sabres brought in a couple of notable forwards: former Sabre Jason Pominville — of whom Bailey is a huge fan — in a trade with the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oiler Benoit Pouliot, whom the Sabres signed in free agency.

“Every year there is going to be competition for jobs,” Bailey said. “Every year I am pushing for someone else’s job, and they are pushing for mine. The more you focus on that, the more it will take you off your game. I’m focused on development camp and September [training camp], stealing a job and solidifying myself on this team.”

Bailey, a 6-foot-3, 214-pound right winger, got extensive playing time on the left wing in the 2016-17 season, playing 32 games, recording two goals and four points, and logging an average of 10 minutes, 37 seconds per night of ice time. He also took 36 shots and totaled 27 hits.

“Playing on the left wing was new to me last year, but [then] coach [Dan] Bylsma saw an opportunity for me, and I played a fair amount on the left side,” Bailey said. “I was able to use my speed on the wing and cut in and used my body on defensemen going wide. I thought I adjusted well to it and is something I look forward to doing in the future.”

Bailey said he has not been told if he would be playing on the left wing for the upcoming season but would be willing to do so if asked.

“I want to be adaptable,” Bailey said. “I made a conscious effort to work in the offseason on some little things, like playing in the defensive zone, that I was not used to on the left side.”

When Bailey was not playing for the Sabres, he excelled for the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ minor league affiliate, where he recorded 23 goals and 35 points in 52 games, had three game-winning goals, and scored on a team-best 18.3 percent of his shots.

“Any time you go into a new season, you have the best outlook on it,” Bailey said. “For me, last year I was trying to have the best year that I could. I was fortunate enough to play a few NHL games. I thought in some of the games I played well and showed what I could do. I was fortunate to have a decent amount of success in the minor leagues. I want to take the success I had in the AHL and translate it here to help the team.”

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