Natural born Isl-anders?
Thank Bossy football isn't all that.
Lee is already 21 (as of last July). He dominated his USHL gap year and followed it up with an excellent first year in college. He's an important player for a highly ranked Notre Dame team that has championship aspirations with fellow sophomore running mate T.J. Tynan, a Blue Jackets draft pick whose name usually appears next to Lee's on the score sheet.
Lee has a reputation of taking his academics seriously -- you don't really end up at Notre Dame if you don't -- but the Islanders will probably want to lure him out of college before his work is done there. As a kid who played in the USHL first, two summers from now he could theoretically pull a Jason Gregoire/Blake Kessel move, leave college and declare himself a free agent. Or, he could pull an Aaron Ness/Matt Donovan and get some AHL orientation time with the team that drafted him.
Lee's certainly excited about playing for the Islanders, but he's also committed to chasing a championship with the Irish.
Watching him last spring, it was clear there is still some skating work to be done to be ready for the pro game -- and outside of football fears, that was the knock on him on draft day. But he looks to be on his way. He uses his body well in the corners and in front of the net, he fights for the puck with necessary pit-bull enthusiasm, and he has the hands to make that work pay off. Whether he'll be a center (as groomed) or a wing is a question for the future.
Playing with Tynan will probably inflate his numbers and get people even more excited for him, but that doesn't mean his production isn't legit. Listed by some at 6'3" and over 220 lbs., the Islanders don't really have a forward quite like him. If he and Nino Niederreiter both pan out, you can picture a nice mix of size and skill on the Islanders wings.
Lee wore #9 in football, wears #9 for Notre Dame, and he's at #9 on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 list.
How We Voted
|Top 25 Under 25||mikb||M11||CIL||Dom||KQ||Web/Mark
For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking about who are the best hockey players now, balanced with who has the best potential/value long-term.
Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series
- Those who didn't make the Top 25
- #25: Anton Klementyev, D
- #24: Not to be Pedantic, but is it Andrei or Andrey Pedan, D
- #23: Mark Katic (D) shoulders the burden
#22: Rhett Rakhshani (W)
- #21: Matt Martin (LW), budding 'stache
- #20: Johan Sundström, C
- #19: David Ullström, C/W
- #18: Scott Mayfield, D
- #17: Kirill "A" Petrov, W
- #16: Feisty Casey Cizikas, C
- #15: Towering Anders Nilsson, G
- #14: Roloson Reward Ty Wishart, D
- #13: Oklahoman Matt Donovan, D
- #12: Brock Nelson, C/LW/Reverend
- #11: Kirill Kabanov is a Thing to Say, W
- #10: Calvin de Haan, D
The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived (I think) by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility