Photo: Melissa Kania

Buffalo Sabres Prospect Profile: Justin Bailey

Nineteen-year-old Buffalo Sabres prospect Justin Bailey will enter his third season in the Ontario Hockey League this September when the Kitchener Rangers kick off their season against the Owen Sound Attack on September 24.

Bailey, a native of Williamsville, was drafted by the Sabres last year, 52nd overall.

He’s a right-shooting right-winger who continues to grow and develop his game in the OHL with the hope of eventually playing for his hometown team someday.

Although he’s in the OHL now, that wasn’t the only option for Bailey.

He was drafted by the Indiana Ice of the USHL in 2011 and played two games for them in the 2011-12 season. He also had an option of going to play for Michigan State University, but elected to go the OHL route instead.

The Rangers drafted Bailey in the seventh round of the 2011 OHL Priorty Selection.

Prior to his days in the OHL, Bailey was playing for the Long Island Royals Midget U-16 National Team. Under coach Pat Lafontaine’s watchful eye, Bailey notching 34 points in 22 games with the Royals during the 2011-12 season.

Justin is a mobile, big-bodied forward who skates well and demonstrates offensive skill on the ice.

He made his OHL debut with the Rangers on September 21, 2012 as the Rangers defeated the Mississauga Steelheads, 3-0. His first point in the OHL – and first goal – came a month later in a game against Kingston.

Overall, Bailey finished his rookie season in the OHL with 17 goals and 19 assists. He was a plus-22 and had 34 penalty minutes and 36 points in 57 regular season games.

He was sixth on the Rangers in points that season and fourth in goals, behind Josh Leivo, Tobias Rieder and Matt Puempel.

Bailey was one of six rookies to suit for Kitchener in the 2012-13 season, but the only one to play more than 50 games with the team. (Darby Llewellyn played 40). He wasn’t the top rookie point-getting the league; that honor belonged to Sarnia’s Nikolay Goldobin, who notched an impressive 68 points in as many games. But Bailey was 12th in rookie scoring throughout the OHL – not too shabby.

The Rangers went on to the playoffs, and Bailey had three points (1-2) in 10 games.

That summer, the Sabres drafted Bailey in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft. He represented the Sabres in the Traverse City Tournament and attended USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp before returning to Kitchener last October for his sophomore season with the OHL’s Rangers.

He amped up his offensive production, scoring 25 goals and 18 assists for 43 points in 54 regular season games.

Bailey finished the regular season second on the Rangers in scoring behind rookie right winger Nick Magyar, who had 46 points in 66 games. Bailey was tied for the team lead in goals with Darby Llewellyn and had five power-play goals on the season, one of the most on the team.

He was named the team’s MVP.

Ultimately, Kitchener failed to secure a playoff spot, finishing the season 9th in the Western Conference with 49 points. They were the second-worst team in the league, ahead of only the Sarnia Sting.

Bailey also attended the Sabres’ development camp last week.

In the next few months, Justin Bailey will return to Kitchener for his third season in the Ontario Hockey League.

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