With just 20 goals in 2019-2020, the New York Islanders need Anders Lee to bounce back for the 2021 season with some more offense.
This week, it’s all but been confirmed that the NHL will be playing a 56 game season starting on January 13. With just over a month out, I got the itch to begin looking ahead to the season and give out my expectations for each Islanders player this season.
We’ll start with the captain, and someone the Islanders could benefit from having a bounce-back season. Last year, it felt like Lee was snake bitten as he shot at just 10.3 percent, 3.5 percent lower than his career average.
In addition to the low shooting percentage, Anders Lee was mostly absent on the power play. Of his 20 goals, just two of them came on the power play. Two power-play goals from Lee is practically unheard of.
He’s scored eight power-play goals or more in his previous four seasons so that kind of drop-off was certainly uncharacteristic for Lee who was on the first year of a seven-year $49 million extension.
Some point to the Milan Lucic’s and Wayne Simmonds’ of the worst as a warning to what’s going to happen to Lee and think that we’ve already seen the beginning of the end. I don’t necessarily buy that.
We haven’t seen the massive drop off in shots, that both Lucic and Simmonds saw at their age 29 season. Lee was getting his chances, he was just unlucky. That likely won’t happen again in 2021.
So what does that mean we can expect for Anders Lee? Well, for starters I think the power-play goals rise up, as I mentioned earlier, which yields a climb back to a 30 goal pace out of Anders Lee.
In a 56 game season, my production prediction is 37 points (22 goals, 15 assists). Paced out over an 82 game season that would be 54 points (32 goals, 22 assists).
If the Islanders are back getting a 30 goal pace from Anders Lee that’s a massive step forward. The assumption is that the Isles top line is going to be Anders Lee – Mathew Barzal – Jordan Eberle, which has shown to be streaky at times.
What we haven’t talked about yet is what Anders Lee means to the room. Yes, it can be cliche but Anders Lee does bring a lot of intangibles when it comes to his game and personality outside of being a net-front presence.
He’s trusted in the locker room, he has his teammates back, and the culture from Lou Lamoriello to Barry Trotz to Anders Lee and down is very, very good. I’m high on Anders Lee going into the 2021 season, I think he’s productive in a big way.