Anders Lee
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Islanders managed to retain captain Anders Lee on a long-term deal at a compromise for both sides.

Matt Di Giacomo

Anders Lee held true to his comments on loyalty and never explored other avenues, eventually returning to the New York Islanders.

Lou Lamoriello was gunning hard for Artemi Panarin, but once the coveted Russian winger departed to Manhattan the door opened for Lee to return.

Lee’s value was a hotly contested topic since chatter began in June after the Isles season ended. The belief was that Lee was seeking upwards of $8 million on an eight-year basis.

Being able to wait out until free agency turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Lamoriello has been known to play hardball with his pending free agents, especially in seeing what happened during negotiations with Robin Lehner.

Waiting this long on Lee likely allowed his agent, Neil Sheehy, to get a feeler for the market and see what the open market value would be.

Regardless of this, Lee took the path of Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle and opted for a pay-cut to stay with the Islanders.

Coming off of a 40-goal, 62-point season Lee followed up his best campaign with an admirable 28-goal, 51-point season. The Isles captain is a natural mentor both on and off the ice and brings a bounty of leadership.

At face value, it seems a bit awkward the Islanders essentially approached Lee as “Plan B.” During his press conference with reporters, Lee told reporters:

“In principle, Lou and Neil had agreed on some things that allowed Lout to go after some other things out there, and then things kind of fell into place. The last couple of days haven’t been as worrysome.”

One way or another it seemed Lee was hell-bent on making things work out, the only apparent question was the term of the deal.

Aside from potentially losing their second-consecutive captain via free agency, the Isles risked losing Lee’s 28 goals and another top-six winger when they’re already in need of one.

Lamoriello avoided losing his captain and managed to come to an agreeable deal for both sides.

Maintaining their current core in place was the only fallback option for Lamoriello, especially in light of how the 2018 free agency went. Though Valtteri Filppula departed for the Detroit Red Wings, there were no hard feelings as Filppula had a desire to return to Detroit.

The Islanders leave July 1 essentially at status quo. Though many will interpret Varlamov’s entry as a downgrade to Lehner’s departure, the goaltending staff should see to it that he will be back to form and were actually the catalyst behind getting him on Long Island.

With Lee earning $7 million per year and Varlamov’s averaging $5 million, the Islanders have $8.6 million remaining in cap space.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.