By Mike Harrington
NEWARK, N.J. -- Justin Bailey waited through 51 picks -- including two in the second round by the Buffalo Sabres. Then his hometown team pulled the trigger, making the Williamsville native and Kitchener Rangers winger their third pick of the second round this evening.
Pretty heady stuff for a guy who has known Matthew Barnaby since he was a tot and played for Pat LaFontaine's Long Island Royals. If you missed John Vogl's story on the life of Bailey today, you must go to this link and check it out.
"It was amazing for my family and myself," said Bailey, who had nearly 30 family members and friends with him in the Prudential Center. "You grow up and you're playing hockey and especially for me loving the Sabres, quoting Rick Jeanneret when I was younger, knowing every guy on the team and growing up with them as well. It's just absolutely amazing."
The 6-3, 186-pound Bailey had 17 goals and 36 points in 57 games this season. He's a bit of a project, likely 2-3 years away from the NHL. But he said it was "surreal" to don a blue Sabres jersey when he was selected Sunday. And he's a week away from skating at First Niagara Center in an official capacity as part of the team's development camp.
"It's incredible. I love that rink and I can't wait to go out there and show them what I have," he said.
Speaking of incredible, Vogl and I had quite a talk a few minutes ago with Bailey's mother, Karen Buscaglia. She recalled a few years ago having Justin hanging around Amherst getting Sabres autographs.
"I was in the rinks at the summer skates at the Northtown Center and he'd make me wait there and I'd be like, 'We already have their autographs' and he'd get them 500 times," she said. "He had Afinogenov and all those guys. It's just amazing to see this little kid that stood out at the rinks and now he's pulling the jersey over his head for the team."
For more from Bailey, listen to the audio below: