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.
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?
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.
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.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 21, 2016
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.