Cage Match: Josh Bailey vs. Evgeny Dadonov

Rick Roos


Two years ago isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things; but in fantasy, it can be an eternity. Back in May 2016 one of our combatants (Josh Bailey) was a former top ten draft pick who, after 557 career NHL games, had yet to post more than 41 points in a season, while his opponent (Evgeny Dadonov) had last played in the NHL four years earlier and seemed like a lock to stay overseas. Fast forward to now, and Bailey just posted 71 points in 76 contests and Dadonov, upon returning to the NHL, tallied 65 in 74 games. Can we bank on both being top fantasy producers in future seasons, and which one should outperform the other? Let’s find out – Cage Match starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

Bailey, 28, was drafted 9th overall in 2008 and stuck with the Islanders that season and next, posting 60 points in 141 games. In 2010-11 Bailey emerged with six points in five games, but then went scoreless in his next 13 contests, and then found himself in the AHL. There he posted 17 points in 11 games to earn a ticket back to New York, this time for good. Yet only once in the next four seasons did Bailey even manage more than a point per every other game, causing pretty much all poolies to label him as a fantasy bust. But then a funny thing happened – Bailey rose to 56 points in 2016-17, although 36 of those 56 points came in his first 27 games. Then before we could write off that season as merely two months of catching lightning in a bottle, he rose all the way to 71 points for 2017-18, although yet again he started much stronger than he finished, with 50 points in his first 39 games then only 21 in his final 37 contests.

Dadonov, 29, was picked 71st overall a year earlier than Bailey, and came stateside for 2009-10. What followed were three seasons of a combined 79 AHL games (posting 44 points) versus only 55 total NHL games, tallying a meager 20 points and culminating in his rights being traded to Carolina. Dadonov played overseas the next five seasons, during which his rights to Carolina expired, leaving him free to sign with any NHL team. After 66 points in 53 KHL games in 2016-17, that’s exactly what he did, ironically returning to the very same team which gave up on him during his first NHL run – the Panthers. Dadonov showed no NHL rust this past season, posting 65 points in 74 games, both starting (14 points in 11 games) and ending (20 points in 22 games) red hot, and all the while showing excellent chemistry with star center Aleksander Barkov.

Bailey avoided becoming a free agent this summer by inking a six year, $30M contract in February, while Dadonov is set to earn $4.0M per season through 2019-20 before becoming a UFA.

Ice Time


Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)