The New York Islanders’ offense was bolstered by the emergence of young and talented power forward Anders Lee.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 228 lbs
Scouting Report: Big-bodied forward who struggles with consistency
Stats: 81 GP, 34 G, 18 A, 52 PTS, +9 +/-, 56 PIM
When Anders Lee was in high school, he was a slick-fielding third baseman, star quarterback and big-bodied goalscorer.
Dubbed a ‘triple threat’ by recruiting experts, Lee garnered multiple accolades for his athleticism (for example, he was named the 2008 Minnesota Gatorade Football Player of the Year). This presented him with an enviable choice: baseball, football or hockey.
Lee chose the later, and from the Islanders’ standpoint, thank the heavens he did. Not only did the Edina, Minnesota native have a breakout season in 2016-17, but he continued to develop as a leader both on and off the ice, as well.
Lee, 26, started the season like he finished his last: underwhelming, and frankly, disappointing. In November, we explored his struggles, writing that he’s simply not doing enough of the little things and suffering as a result. But it was Newsday’s Arthur Staple who summed it up best:
“Anders Lee is a streaky player who, to me, needs to be on the top PP unit. He’s not the best skater or shooter; his utility depends on being the net-front guy to jam in rebounds and cause havoc. Not giving him the fullest chance to do that seems like the wrong call.”
Jack Capuano, who began the season behind the Isles’ bench, quickly heeded Staple’s advice, and it was like a lightbulb went on in Lee’s head. He turned things around, and the Islanders improved as a result.
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While Staple’s advice was part of the reason Lee improved as the season progressed, there were other reasons, as well: (a) newfound confidence; (b) better even-strength usage; (c) and the simple idea that Lee is better than he was playing.
Lee tipped in the game-winning goal against the Penguins earlier this season, to the delight of Doc Emrick:
Lee set career-highs in goals (34), assists (18), points (52) and total time on ice (1263 minutes).
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Lee was praised for his off-ice charity work, which included the Anders Lee Kancer Jam, an event aimed at raising money for kids and families battling the deadly disease.
Lee was inked to a four-year, $15 million contract extension in June 2015. He’s a sure-lock to be protected in the upcoming expansion draft.