New York Islanders

Anders Lee has struggled in 2015-16 following an incredible rookie campaign in which he ranked fourth among first-year players in goals.

By Justin Weiss

The New York Islanders keep on waiting for it to happen, but so far nothing has.

A season after Anders Lee exploded onto the scene in his rookie campaign, the stoic, gritty player has struggled to find the back of the net.

During the 2014-15 season Lee netted 25 goals, fourth among first-year players.

Throughout his entire minor league career — be it in the AHL, NCAA or USHL — Lee never struggled to eclipse the twenty goal threshold.

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He only has 6 goals in 46 games, though, and is on pace for less than 12 goals this season.

His +/- rating, TMCF%, and CPDO (ranks last for all forwards on the team) have all declined in 2015-16, while his “hockey card stats” all look a lot uglier than last year.

Lee, who’s calling card is doing vaunted “dirty work” in front of the net, is currently in the midst of a sophomore slump.

What he usually excels at — boxing out, getting rebounds, obtaining deflections — is coming as more of a challenge for the Edina, Minnesota native.

A frustrated Lee spoke with Newsday reporter Arthur Staple in December following his 12th straight game without a goal.

“That was pretty close to the bottom, it’s so frustrating.”

If the end of the team’s first-round playoff series with the Washington Capitals wasn’t an indicator of what was about to transpire, it should have been.

Lee was forced to watch the deciding Games 6 and 7 in street clothes as head coach Jack Capuano benched him in favor of other options.

Lee, who was signed to a four-year, $15 million extension before the season, hasn’t been able to click with John Tavares on the team’s first line. With his 6-foot-3, 227-pound frame, one would have expected that last season’s version of Lee was just the beginning in realizing his NHL potential.

The Isles hope it still is but he’ll have to overcome a lengthy slump to do so.

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.