Contract discussions have stalled with New York Islanders captain Anders Lee. The sticking point seems to be the term of the contract. Let’s take a look at why a long term deal makes sense for the Islanders.
Anders Lee is a leader. When ‘he who shall not be named’ took his talents to the Great White North there was little debate as to who would succeed him for the New York Islanders. Not since Michael Peca have the Isles had as respected and well liked a captain as Lee. One can argue his presence this season has been nearly as important as Trotz and Lou.
So what gives? Why the delay?
First, we need to understand that Lee is historically a hard negotiator.
A superb quarterback, many had concerns about whether Lee would choose football over hockey. He fell into the Isles lap in the SIXTH round (151st overall) in 2009. By 2012 the Islanders risked losing his rights as Lee repeatedly expressed a desire to return to Notre Dame for his senior year. It took the guarantee of an NHL spot and a two year deal, with an AAV of $1.75 MM per; a hefty sum for an entry level deal, even today.
Lee was not ready for the league. By 2013 he was at the Bridge and his next deal in 2014 was for one year at $850k. That turned out to be a huge bargain as he produced 25 goals and 41 points during the 14-15 season.
Now as his four-year deal comes to an end does extending the 28 year old Lee to a six, seven or even eight-year deal at a reasonable AAV makes sense?
Yes it does, and here’s three basic reasons why.
Making the Case
This all comes about because Pierre Lebrun reported that negotiations between the Islanders and Lee have stalled over the term of the deal.
Here’s why a long term extension makes sense:
Team Stability- Advanced analytics aside retaining Lee before the free agency period is crucial toward organizational stability. The kind of stability necessary for a team that wants/needs to woo free agents. The kind of stability for an organization that still does not have a shovel in the ground in Belmont and calls two arenas home.
Durability- Lee is built like a tank. With his football mentality, (other than getting hit by teammate’s shot), Lee will play with pain. The same pain that lands most others on the IR.
Style of Play– Anders game is not predicated on speed. Although his skating has vastly improved he is definitely one of the slower guys in the NHL. It doesn’t matter. Guys like Phil Esposito, Dave Andreychuk and Tim Kerr would still excel in today’s NHL, as net front presence requires a warrior mentality that most do not possess. At 28 or 38, Lee is going to position, fight and deflect near the crease.
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Anders is an Islander through and through, but a significant hometown discount is likely not in the cards. History would suggest that Lee recognizes and rightfully expects to be rewarded for his talents. Should he go the free agent route he will certainly get the 6+ year deal he covets.
Let’s add some more good news to what has been a historic Islanders season.
Lou, sign the man now!