Editorials

Islanders: Anders Lee Proving Doubters Wrong In 2021

By Matt O'Leary
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on February 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on February 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Rewind to July 1, 2019. The Islanders were making a push for Artemi Panarin which came up short but they decided to pivot to Anders Lee. Lee, who was named the Islanders captain at the beginning of the previous season, was then signed to an extension.

Lee received a seven-year $49 million ($7 million AAV) deal to remain with the Isles. The deal would have him signed from his age 29 through 35 season.

At the time, the deal was very much criticized. How can you give Lee that kind of a deal when we saw what happened to Milan Lucic in Edmonton and what just happened with Andrew Ladd a few years earlier?

Just take a look at some of the comments on here. It was a “lol Isles” moment for a lot of people. In year one, Anders Lee had just 20 goals in a 68 game season. Was the decline already coming?

Some jumped to that conclusion, but when looking deeper Anders Lee was genuinely unlucky last year on the power play. He had just two power play goals and was shooting at 7.14 percent on the man advantage.

Considering that the four years prior he never fell below 16.7 percent, this was a massive outlier. In all situations, he shot at a 10.3 percent, which was his lowest total since 2015-2016.

Now the reason why I wasn’t going to jump on the decline bandwagon was due to the number of shots he was still generating. He was on pace for 235 shots on the season last year, which would be 17 more shots than he’s ever had in a season.

Usually when these guys start to decline their opportunities go away. Lee was getting his chances, they just weren’t going in at the rate he normally puts them in at.

This year’s completely different. He has three power play goals in 19 games, and nine goals on the season overall. That would put him on pace for 39 goals with 13 on the power play in an 82 game season. That doesn’t seem like a decline to me, that’s still prime Anders Lee production.

If Anders keeps this up and gives the Islanders 25 goals and nine of them come on the power play in the shortened 56 game season, that’s perfectly fine production for someone at $7 million.

If you’re curious what Barry Trotz, a hall of fame head coach, thinks of him, he said that he’s been the “most consistent forward” the Isles have had this year.

It’s just ironic that Lee’s deal was so criticized while the Sabres were praised for signing Jeff Skinner to an eight-year $72 million deal and he was a healthy scratch last night in year two of that contract.

Lou Lamoriello isn’t a perfect GM, he’s given out some poor contracts, but Anders Lee and J.G. Pageau, who he was criticized for trading for and extending at that cost have been extremely important to this team in their run to the Eastern Conference Final and their 2021 season.

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