Penn State junior forward Casey Bailey was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs to a two-year, entry level contract as a free agent on Saturday evening, per David Nonis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the club.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 21, 2015
Bailey, 23, led the Big Ten and ranked seventh in the nation in scoring with 22 goals; the 6-foot-3 Alaska native also picked up 18 assists during Penn State’s 36 regular season games. He ranked fourth in the conference with 40 points, and he led the nation with 211 shots on goal.
Recent speculation about Bailey’s career questioned whether he would forgo his final year of eligibility or finish his four years at Penn State, with most assuming that the Buffalo Sabres, due to owner Terry Pegula’s connections with Penn State, would heavily pursue the forward. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Toronto will likely burn the first year of the contract and give Bailey two years of full playing time.
Any team signing Bailey had to agree to burn 1st yr of contract now, Bailey immediately going to NHL club and playing games this season.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 21, 2015
Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky noted that Bailey’s determination and skill earned him this contract, saying: “He’s a great guy and a great player who had a great year. He deserves a lot of credit for his commitment to our objectives with and without the puck, and for the amount of work that he put into the weight room this summer and throughout the season with (strength & conditioning coach) Cam Davidson.”
He added, “We obviously would have loved to have him back next year, but at the same time this is a great step for our program. We will all follow Casey’s success in the NHL with great pride.”
Bailey, a Hobey Baker nominee, is Hockey Valley’s first player to receive a professional contract.
Full contract details are expected to be released tonight.
Photo Credit: GoPSUSports.com
Bailey released this statement in regards to his signing:
“I am truly fortunate and humbled by this opportunity to sign with such a prestigious Original Six organization, the Toronto Maple Leafs. I would also like to acknowledge how thankful I am for all of the love and support I have gotten over the years from my friends and family. I would not be where I am today without them. Also I would like to sincerely thank all of my coaches, teammates and staff at Penn State for getting me prepared for the next stage of my career.”
Bailey could officially join the team in time to play in Monday’s game against Minnesota at 7:30 p.m.