The Toronto Maple Leafs made their second free-agent signing in as many days on Saturday, inking Penn State University forward Casey Bailey to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Bailey, whose Nittany Lions lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten quarterfinals last week, will forego his senior season to join the Maple Leafs. It’s expected he’ll suit up for squad before the end of the regular season. Here’s what you need to know:
Weight: 205 pounds
Contract status: two-year, entry-level deal.
Enjoyed a breakout season as a junior in 2014-15
Bailey’s production exploded this year as he racked up a team-best 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 37 games. His goal total led the Big Ten. Those offensive numbers were a huge improvement from Bailey’s sophomore season, during which he put up 13 points (9 goals, 4 assists) in 32 games. The Hobey Baker Award candidate parts Penn State as the team’s all-time leader in goals (45) and points (80) in 96 career contests. He was named Big Ten First Star of the Week in November.
He likes to shoot…a lot
The Anchorage, Alaska native had the most shots across NCAA Div. 1 hockey this season, totalling 211. He admits he doesn’t have the hardest shot, but credits his prowess for finding the back of the net to a quick release. Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis alluded to this when he commented on the signing over the weekend.
“His release is something you’ll notice right away. He puts himself in position to shoot,” Nonis told the Canadian Press prior to the Leafs game versus the Senators in Ottawa on Saturday.
There’s a Gardiner connection
Penn State senior Max Gardiner, brother of Toronto’s Jake Gardiner, was Bailey’s teammate on the Nittany Lions this season.
He drew lots of attention from NHL teams
After an incredible freshman campaign, Bailey’s production slipped last season. But his successful junior season had him on the radar of several NHL teams, insiders say. Among teams reportedly vying for his services included the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres.
According to Sportnet’s Damien Cox, Bailey had previously been in camps with the Bruins and the Calgary Flamers, and that up to 15 teams were previously interested in his services.