Drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, there weren’t many expectations around Anders Lee. Scouts weren’t even sure he’d want to play professional hockey over football.
So when he committed to playing hockey it was a bonus for the New York Islanders. Their sixth round pick could potentially become an NHL player. The risk was worth it.
He certainly wasn’t seen as a potential elite level goal scorer in the NHL. A player that could net 50 goals in a single season.
In his rookie year of 2014-15, Anders Lee put up 25 goals and made the top ten for the Calder Trophy. It was a great achievement, but he followed that season up with a 15 goal season in 2015-16. You’d be excused if thoughts of “flash in the pan” came through your mind.
But then 2016-17 happened. And Anders Lee, after a terrible start to the year, put up 34 goals. And by terrible I mean a single goal through the start of the season till November 23rd. That’s 18 games registering a single goal. That’s a five-goal pace for the season, the fact that he put in 33 more after that speaks volumes.
So, again, where the surprise?
Well, again, no one thought he could get better than that. It’s not to say that he would regress. Scoring 34 goals in a season is remarkable. But to think he could put up 50 was unthinkable.
But that’s just what he’s doing right now. With 22 goals in 36 games, Lee is on pace for 50.11 goals. Round that down to an even 50. Fifty goals! The last New York Islanders player to put in at least 50 was Pierre Turgeon in 1992-93 when he put in 58.