New York Islanders 2018-19 Season Review And Player Grade: Anders Lee
By Matt Hawkins
Anders Lee’s first, and possibly only, season as New York Islanders captain has ended. He didn’t score 40 goals this year, but his game improved elsewhere, and he still has things to work on.
With the hiring of head coach Barry Trotz this past off-season, the New York Islanders went from giving up the most goals last season to allowing the least number of goals this season.
This amazing transformation is thanks to the new defensive structure and game that coach Trotz brings to the table. Although the New York Islanders didn’t give up many goals this season, they also couldn’t score many as well.
Several Islanders regressed in point production due to this new defense-first style of hockey. One of these players was newly appointed captain, Anders Lee.
Although Lee regressed offensively, he, like many other Islanders, excelled on the defensive side of the game.
Season Review – Offense
Like many of his Islanders teammates, Anders Lee declined on the offensive side of the game this season.
His 40-goal mark from last season was reduced to 28 this season. This mark was still good for the team lead however and his 51 total points this season were good for fourth overall on the team just like his 62 points last year.
Although Lee didn’t score 40 goals, he was still able to set a new career best in assists with 23. Also, Anders was able to reach the 50-point plateau for the third season in a row.
Lee may have not been able to put the puck in the back of the net as much as he did last season but he was actually getting more high-danger chances than last season.
Last season, Lee had 163 individual high-danger chances for (iHDCF). This season Lee had 12 more iHDCF, with 175. So, theoretically, he should’ve had more goals this season, but Lee just didn’t seem to have the same goal-scoring touch as he did last season.
This can be seen with his shooting percentage (SH%), which dropped from 19.2% last season to 13.7% this season. Lee may have been getting better and more scoring chances this year but he wasn’t hitting the net nearly as much as last year.
Season Review – Defense
Although Lee regressed offensively this season, he improved defensively. Lee’s number of blocked shots increased from just 38 last season to 51 this season.
To go along with his increased blocks, his +/- drastically improved. Last season, on a team that pretty much refused to play defense, Lee’s +/- was a horrendous -25. With a sound defensive structure in place, Lee’s +/- was a very respectable 20 this season, which is his career best.
Although +/- doesn’t tell you how great a forward is at playing defense, it still tells you some of the story. When you look at Lee’s increased shot blocks and his much-improved +/-, you can see that Lee has improved significantly on the defensive side of the game and can be considered a solid two-way, goal-scoring winger.
Lee may have improved defensively this year with the New York Islanders new defensive-minded structure, but his goal total still dropped significantly even with the increase in iHDCF.
When it came to the playoffs, Anders didn’t show up. He suited up for all eight games and recorded just four points (one goal and three assists). To go along with that, his +/- was a -1 and his SH% was a measly 5%.
As captain, Lee needs to be able to lead by example and hit the twine when the team needs him to. Lee also needs to be able to rally the team when they’re on the verge of being swept. Lee was unable to do both of these things during the Islanders second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
With looking at all of these factors, Anders Lee gets a B- for 2018-19.
Maybe with some additions to the top-six, Lee can return to at least his 30-goal self of two seasons ago. And maybe with one season of experience as a captain, Lee will know how to step up in clutch moments and be able to rally the team when it matters most.