Anders Lee surges while New York Islanders plunge 2
Nov 28, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Anders Lee (27) skates against Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman (6) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Forward Anders Lee has been surging, but the New York Islanders haven’t done the same.

It’s been a bittersweet campaign for Anders Lee.

The third-year winger from Edina, Minnesota got off to a slow start before exploding onto the scene (again). He now leads the Islanders in goals and PP60 at even strength.

“Anders [Lee] has played well,” maligned head coach Jack Capuano said, via Arthur Staple of Newsday. The problem is that the rest of the team hasn’t.

This presents Lee with an unfortunate conundrum that other aspiring goal scorers face: it’s great to score, but honestly, who wouldn’t rather win?

Slow start

Since he’s entered the league, Lee, 26, has been criticized for not doing enough of the little things (i.e. forechecking) to make up for a lack of offensive production.

He’s put up a nice number of goals in his two-plus seasons, but it’s the intervals when he’s struggled to light the lamp that people have been impatient.

“Anders Lee is a streaky player who, to me, needs be on a top PP [power play] unit,” Staple wrote earlier this season. “He’s not the best skater or shooter; his utility depends on being the net-front guy to jam in rebounds and cause havoc.”

Through the first seventeen games on the season, Lee tallied a mere one goal. For a skater who struggles in the aforementioned departments, that’s just not good enough to quiet the doubters.

‘He’s unconscious’

Things not-so-subtly turned around for Lee against the San Jose Sharks in late November, when the 6’3″, 228-pound power forward deflected a point shot on the power play to put the Isles on the board first.

Then, even with the Isles spiraling, he netted a pair of goals against the Kings, Blues, and Bruins, raising his season total to — wait for it, wait for it — twelve. That’s a team-leading tally.

Lee has provided much-needed goal support for a team devoid of scoring. He’s just four snipes away from matching his total from last season (even though it’s only been thirty-two games).

Back to the future

It’s not often that a skater revives himself like this. If nothing else, this sudden uptick in production should force general manager Garth Snow to think about Lee’s status in the upcoming expansion draft.

It’s unclear what the Isles’ plans for him were before this influx in scoring, but they should be much more obvious now. He should be here to stay, even if it means keeping him in Brooklyn over the likes of Ryan Strome or Calvin de Haan.

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.