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New York Islanders: Impact Of Jeff Skinner Rumor on UFA Anders Lee

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal at 1:31 of the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the Barclays Center on December 23, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal at 1:31 of the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the Barclays Center on December 23, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Buffalo Sabres and Jeff Skinner might be entering into a huge eight-year $72 million contract. How does that impact New York Islanders UFA Anders Lee?

According to Bob McKenzie, the Buffalo Sabres and Jeff Skinner are closing in on an eight-year deal somewhere between an $8.5 and $9.5 million AAV. The immediate thought on such a rumor is how will that affect New York Islanders captain Anders Lee and his contract negotiations?

According to Arthur Staple (subscription required), the hold-up with Lee was over the term of the deal. Lee and his camp want seven years, while Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders aren’t going any higher than five years.

But if recent 40 goal scorer Jeff Skinner gets a $9 million AAV for the full eight years, what does that mean for Anders Lee and his negotiations with the Islanders?

Comparable

It’s important to show just how similar these players are. Over the last three seasons, Jeff Skinner has scored 101 goals and 175 points while Anders Lee has scored 102 goals with 165 points.

To try to find a difference between the two I looked at their scoring rates over their careers. By that I mean, goals, assists, and points per game. And then how many of their points are goals, and how many are assists.

You can see that everything is pretty close but Jeff Skinner stands out as the better player, production wise. His goal scoring rate is similar to Lee’s, but it’s his ability to pick up helpers (0.299 per game) that make him the better player.

All of this to say that it’s fair to think a 9×8 contract for a similar player like Jeff Skinner could have an impact on Anders Lee’s negotiations with the team. If Skinner can command a $9 million AAV, Anders Lee can certainly command something close.

The Impact

I doubt the Skinner deal does anything on the negotiations about the term of Lee’s deal. Sure, Skinner got eight years but he is two years younger than Lee.

But that $9 million AAV could certainly have an effect on negotiations.

Before the Skinner rumor broke I thought it was a lock that Lee’s deal would carry a $7 million AAV. James van Riemsdyk another power forward in the same mold as Anders Lee signed a five-year deal with a $7 million AAV with the Philadelphia Flyers in last year’s free agency window.

The Skinner deal opens the door for Lee’s deal to head North of that $7 million AAV.

The New York Islanders don’t want to sign Lee for longer than five years. Do they strike a compromise with Neil Sheehy, Lee’s agent, to keep the deal at five years but with an $8 million AAV instead?

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An $8 million AAV for Anders Lee seems high, but he’s right there with Jeff Skinner in terms of production. It’s a higher number than I’d like to pay Anders Lee, but the market is shifting upwards and if it keeps the term down then it’s a worthwhile compromise.

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