The other day we mentioned that New York Islanders 2009 6th-round pick Anders Lee is moving back to center at Notre Dame, where he's played wing his first two years next to fellow junior T.J. Tynan, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect.
At Monday's media day Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson announced that Lee has also become the Fighting Irish captain:
"Anders has the ability to handle all situations in a student-athlete's life. He's good in the classroom, he's accountable off the ice, he works hard to improve his game and he works hard on the ice to become a great player."
While it's notable that Lee has earned this honor -- the former high school star quarterback always seemed headed that way, and he joins Griffin Reinhart [edit: and Brenden Kichton] as Islanders prospects recently named captains of their squad -- the truly interesting adventure this season will be how he handles the move to the pivot.
The Islanders have drafted several centers in recent years who might ultimately end up as wingers (David Ullstrom is one. Brock Nelson swung to wing in college but is debuting in Bridgeport as a center). Lee is another, and though his game might not translate to center at the pro level, this experience will certainly help round out the requirements for a 200-foot game.
Here is the local college Observer on the position move, which will spread the wealth of Tynan and Lee to two lines and prevent opponents from being able to match both:
"It’s going to give him an opportunity to skate the full distance of the ice and make plays offensively and defensively," Jackson said. "It was about not wanting to have our second- and third-line centers being freshmen. With Anders and T.J. both being juniors, it gives us a lot of experience up the middle."
Though he hasn’t played the position at the collegiate level, Lee spent most of his hockey career at center prior to coming to Notre Dame. Lee said that he is comfortable with his new position and with seeing former line-mate Tynan centering on another line.
"It’s something that comes naturally to me, something that I’ve been doing my whole life," Lee said. "It’s a matter of finding a position where I can help this team out. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. … T.J. is a great player and we fed off each other a lot, and I know he’s going to be great, and I know I will too."
Every level upward in hockey poses new challenges and culls the pack. That Lee handled the position in Minnesota high school two years ago doesn't mean he'll excel there in the NCAA -- to say nothing of the AHL and NHL.
But it's a good test for him. And for Isles prospect watchers, it will be a good laboratory to watch him away from Tynan, who doesn't possess Lee's size but is probably the better NHL prospect. Assuming Lee doesn't loophole his way away from the Islanders (who knows what the next CBA will bring), more data about the 22-year-old's abilities can only help assess his potential role as a pro.