The former Buffalo Regal is rated the 38th best North American skater according to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau rankings and is expected to be taken either late in round one or early in round two. The 6'3", 190 pound winger recently completed his first season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League and totaled 17 goals, 36 points in 57 games.
Bailey, who will be in New Jersey for the draft, along with family and friends, was a guest on the WGR morning show on Tuesday and said he's experiencing a range of emotions this week. "It’s a little bit nerve wracking not knowing where you are going to go, with what pick or anything like that" Bailey said, "but its going to be an exciting day for my family and for myself."
Since Bailey will be attending the draft, we asked him how much he's been thinking about the moment when his name is called by an NHL club. "You grow up as a kid and the draft is on TV and you always see the first round picks go up on the stage and take a picture, put on that jersey and shake hands with your team" Bailey said. " I tried not to think about it too much during the season but since the season has been over its been a thought that’s come to my mind a few times."
Bailey, whose father is former Buffalo Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey, grew up playing in the Amherst Youth Hockey Association but was part of a state championship team with the Buffalo Regals in 2011. He had a full scholarship on the table from Michigan State but opted for Kitchener of the OHL instead.
As far as where he ends up, Bailey did meet with his hometown team during the NHL prospects camp in Toronto earlier this month and was also invited to a prospects camp run by the Sabres where he interviewed with members of the hockey department for a second time. "It was cool to be able to talk to the team that I grew up watching. It would be a dream come true to be drafted by them but it’d be great to be drafted by any team. "
You can hear the entire interview with Justin Bailey including the influence former Sabres Pat Lafontaine and Mathew Barnaby have had on his young career: