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Islanders Anders Lee can easily make good on his $49 million contract

Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Can Anders Lee give the New York Islanders $7 million worth of production?

Just over a year ago, Anders Lee re-upped with the New York Islanders. He announced the deal in the best possible way. He tweeted out a video titled “I’m not leaving” where Leonardo DiCaprio hypes up his team after stating he’s staying in The Wolf of Wall Street movie.

The Isles captain wasn’t going anywhere. Both Lee and the team agreed on a seven-year $49 million contract ($7 million AAV). It was a huge raise for a guy who held a $3.75 million cap hit just before this new deal.

With the Buffalo Sabres signing

Jeff Skinner

to an eight-year $72 million deal ($9 million AAV) was Lee’s deal fair value for a player that had scored 142 goals since 2014-15 (

17th overall in that period

)? It was a big contract to hand out, so could Lee perform up to his pay grade?

Look A Little Deeper

On the surface, 43 points in 68 games this season doesn’t sound like a good return for a player who just signed a $49 million deal. But that 43 point season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 68 games, 43 points is a good return. Pace that out over a full 82 game season and Lee is a 52 point player. One point better than 2018-19.

Lee managed 15 goals at 5on5 this season, and it could have been much better for the now 30-year-old forward (happy birthday cap). His advanced stats showed he was having a better year than last at 5on5.

*All stats pulled from NaturalStatTrick

With 15 goals and an expected 16.07 Goals-for you could say Lee was a bit unlucky. Which is reflected in his 10 percent shooting percentage compared to the 11.28 percent from last year.

Where things really broke down for Lee was on the power play.

Special Teams Let Down

Over 68 games Lee had two goals on the power play. Even if you pace that out over a full 82 game season and round up Lee still only gets to two goals.

Over the last few seasons, Lee has been somewhat of a PP specialist. With his 33 PPG between 2016-17 and 2018-19, Lee is the tenth best goal scorer on the man advantage in the league.

Some of that blame can be pointed at Lee for being too much of a one-dimensional player on the man advantage. Some of that blame could also be put at the feet of his teammates who aren’t playing into Lee’s style of play.

The one thing that could help Anders Lee put up more goals on the power play is if his team got pucks towards the net. That’s something the Isles are literally the worst at. Their Fenwick-for (unblocked shot attempts) is dead last at 330, their Corsi-for is 30th overall with 460, and they rank dead last with shots on goal with 255. All stats on the power play of course.

Again, while perhaps Lee may be one-dimensional on the man-advantage, he’s still the tenth best player when it comes to scoring on the power play in recent years by doing what he does. Maybe the Isles should play into that skill set a little more, no?

Fair Value

So, can Lee put up $7 million worth of production? To answer that fairly you have to look at what $7 million gets you these days.

There are five wingers currently making $7 million in the NHL:

Seeing how those players performed can tell us if Anders Lee is performing up to his pay grade.

Anders Lee is right in the middle of this class with his 43 points. Tkachuk is at the top of the class, but it’s clear that Calgary locked him in at a $7 million AAV following his three-year ELC believing he’ll outgrow that price tag and they’ll get good value from the deal. Clearly, they were right.

Looking over what Lee has done this season it’s clear he could easily be near the top of this group if the Islanders can sort out their power play issues.

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After comparing him against players with similar price tags, Anders Lee is clearly performing to his pay grade. He could also easily provide the Islanders with good value on the deal.

Of course with a seven-year deal that will expire just before Lee turns 36, there’s likely to be a few bad years in the end. This is why his full no-trade clause is downgraded to a modified no-trade (15 team no-trade list).

But with what we’ve seen so far in year one, its entirely likely that Lee puts up enough production to justify his $7 million cap hit.

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