2009-10: Justin Bailey played for the Amherst Knights U14 team that reached the USA National Championships after attending USA Hockey’s Select 14 Development Camp the previous summer. Bailey is the son of former Buffalo Bills linebacker, Carlton Bailey.
2010-11: Bailey skated in 12 games for the Buffalo Regals U16 team – missing much of the season due to a shoulder injury. He scored 4 goals with 1 assist for the Regals. Bailey was selected by the Indiana Ice in the first round (11th overall) of the USHL Entry Draft and by Kingston in the seventh round (128th overall) of the OHL Priority Draft.
2011-12: Bailey joined the the Pat Lafontaine-coached Long Island Royals midget team in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League and played two USHL games with Indiana. He had 1 goal in two games with the Ice. In 22 games for the Royals he scored 21 goals with 13 assists and had 52 penalty minutes. Bailey played in the 2012 USA Hockey Select 17 Festival in July 2012. He committed to playing college hockey at Michigan State in January but signed a contract to play for Kitchener in July.
2012-13: Bailey played for the USA in the 2012 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament before joining the Kitchener Rangers for his first OHL season. In 57 games for the Rangers he scored 17 goals with 19 assists and was plus-22 with 34 penalty minutes. Kitchener finished third in the Midwest Division and reached the second round in the playoffs; falling to eventual OHL champion London. Bailey scored 1 goal with 2 assists and was minus-two with 4 penalty minutes in 10 playoff games. He scored two goals, including the USA’s first goal of the tournament in a 2-1 shootout loss to Russia, in four games at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Bailey was ranked 38th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Buffalo in the second round (52nd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
2013-14: Bailey was the second-leading scorer for the Kitchener Rangers in his second OHL season despite skating in just 54 of 68 regular season games after suffering a season-ending upper body injury in February. He scored 25 goals with 18 assists and was -12 with 20 penalty minutes. Kitchener missed the OHL playoffs, finishing last in the Midwest Division.
2014-15: Bailey attended his second training camp with the Sabres before returning to Kitchener for his third OHL season. He was an assistant captain and the leading scorer for the last-place Rangers when he was traded to Sault Ste. Marie for center David Miller and four draft picks in January 2015. In 57 regular season games (35 with Kitchener) he scored 34 goals with 35 assists and was +6 (+17 with the Greyhounds) with 44 penalty minutes. Sault Ste. Marie finished first in the West Division. Bailey signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Sabres in November 2014.
Bailey has the potential to be a power forward in the NHL. He possesses good size but isn't overly combative in tight areas to this point — preferring to make plays with his speed and instincts. He is difficult to contain coming out of the corners, though he is not particularly fast, but needs to play a hard game on a consistent basis to reach his full potential. He has a strong stride and is difficult to stop at top speed. Bailey is an adept finisher around the net.
Bailey was considered a project when he was drafted in 2013, having played less hockey than most of his peers. He made great strides in 2014-15, leading Kitchener in scoring before being traded to Sault Ste. Marie. He signed an entry-level contract with Buffalo in November 2014 and is likely to play in the AHL next season — though he could be returned to the OHL for an overage season. Long-term he projects as a power winger with some scoring elements to his game. He will need to continue to add strength and durability to play that type of game at the NHL level.