Later tonight, NFL players will live out their dream of playing in the Super Bowl. That was likely once the dream or at least a thought for New York Islanders captain Anders Lee. As most Islanders fans know, Lee played football in High School and just wasn't good; he was great.
The Edina, MN native was named the 2008 Minnesota Gatorade player of the year and Metro Player of the Year and was a two-time all-conference and all-state performer. When he left Edina High School, he held conference records for touchdowns in a season (32), total yards (3,332), and set a new Minnesota state mark for total offense per game (319 yards per game).
Lee transferred to Edina High School in 2007 and played for new head football coach Kim Nelson. Nelson instituted an "air-raid" type offense that took the Twin Cities high school circuit by storm, and it was led by the current Islanders captain. “That style of offense was a little bit new to the Twin Cities area,” Nelson told Sports Illustrated in 2018. “Anders was just the right guy at the right time. He was an innovator, I guess.”
There was Division 1 schools that showed interest in Lee and while those options were appealing - including one from Harvard. He always felt that his talent was would be capped as a college football player. Hockey was his best change at becoming a professional, but NHL teams were concerned of the appeal of college football which led to Lee not being drafted in 2008, his first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft.
After expressing interest in 2008, the Islanders and GM Garth Snow had another opportunity to draft Lee in 2009, which turned out to be one of the more successful drafts in recent team history. After selecting John Tavares with the first pick overall, the team took Casey Cizikas in the fourth round and then Lee at the top of the sixth round with the 152nd pick overall.
To date, Lee has the eighth most goals from that draft class, all those ahead of him were drafted in the top 33, and none of them could sling a football by the quarterback turned power forward.