- Anders Lee took a step back in offensive production this past season, tallying just 51 points after scoring a career-high 40 goals a year ago
- In his first season as Islanders captain, Lee played a crucial role in the team’s return to playoff contention
- With contract talks stalled, Lee is listening to offers from several teams, most notably the Chicago Blackhawks, before becoming a free agent on July 1
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee is taking advantage of this week’s window of opportunity for impending free agents to hold talks with NHL teams ahead of the start of this year’s free agent frenzy on July 1.
But while Lee is reportedly being heavily courted by several teams, most notably the Chicago Blackhawks, the Islanders remain the favorites to retain the 28-year-old left winger’s services for next season, sporting +105 odds at Bovada.
Odds Where Anders Lee Will Play Game 1 of the 2019-2020 NHL Season
|Team||Odds at Bovada|
|New York Islanders||+105|
|New York Rangers||+1100|
|New Jersey Devils||+1200|
Lee Key to Islanders Success on and off the Ice
Lee took somewhat of a step back this season, racking up 51 points in 82 games after scoring a career-high 40 goals and adding 22 assists during the 2017-2018 campaign. However, the sixth-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft took on a crucial leadership role with the Islanders this season following the departure of long-time captain John Tavares last summer via free agency.
The sixth-round pick in the 2009 NHL Draft took on a crucial leadership role with the Islanders this season following the departure of long-time captain John Tavares.
After Tavares left New York to join his home town Toronto Maple Leafs, newly hired Islanders head coach Barry Trotz spent considerable time talking to members of the new team in his search for a new captain, which ultimately led to Lee being given the “C”.
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) March 1, 2019
With Trotz behind the bench, and Lee leading by example on and off the ice, the Islanders emerged as one of the surprise stories of the season, finishing their schedule in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points, their highest point total since the team’s last trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1984.
Just spoke with UFA-to-be Anders Lee, can start talking to others teams tomorrow: “I never thought it would get to this point, but I guess it’s the nature of what this week means.” His 1st choice is to stay, hopes it works out. Said talks with #Isles still going. #Islanders #NHL
— Brian Heyman (@bheyman99) June 22, 2019
Despite the progress made by both Lee and the club this season, talks on a new contract have not progressed smoothly, prompting the Edina, Minnesota native to express his displeasure with the situation and look elsewhere during this week’s “listening period”.
Blackhawks Emerging as Frontrunner to Sign Lee as Free Agent
Pegged as close +115 second-favorites to land Lee on the free agent market, the Chicago Blackhawks have emerged as a much talked about destination for the Islanders captain. After a shaky start to the season, the Blackhawks showed steady improvement, but still finished out of playoff contention for a second straight season.
— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) June 27, 2019
The Blackhawks have taken steps of late to bolster their veteran roster, picking up rearguards Olli Maata and Calvin de Haan by trade, and just under $12 million in projected salary cap space available, more than enough to add Lee to the mix.
The Minnesota Wild are also in the mix, pegged as a +1000 wager to sign Lee, while the youthful New York Rangers could benefit from Lee’s leadership skills, and sit at +1100.
Tough to See Islanders Losing a Captain for Second Straight Year
However, barring Lee receiving an outlandish offer he simply cannot refuse, it is tough to see the Islanders allowing a captain to leave the team via unrestricted free agency for a second straight year.
In addition to the intangibles that Lee brings to the dressing room, his offensive contributions are much needed on an Islanders squad that ranked 21st in team offense this past season. And with Islanders general manager Lou Lamiorello enjoying $20.7 million in projected cap space to play with with 20 players already signed, it remains just a matter of time before he comes to terms with his popular captain on a new deal that will keep Lee in New York for the foreseeable future.
Pick: Lee re-signs with Islanders (+105)
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