Anders Lee's exciting NHL debut at the end of 2012-13 (goal on his first shot, two points in two games) was a cool story, but we knew at the time it masked a young player who had a lot to learn to adjust to the pro game.
Lee did nothing in 2013-14 to make one think he wasn't making every one of those adjustments. While the nine goals he put up in a 22-game callup after shining in Bridgeport (22 goals in 54 games) still might flatter his real value, he was generating shots, putting a fair amount in, exhibiting the elusive strength along the boards and in front of the net, and generally looking like the long-sought "power forward" incarnate.
It doesn't hurt that he's been known as a well-liked leader throughout his sports career. There is real untapped potential here at age 23 (24 in July), all of which should make it a puzzle to figure what projections should be used on his next contract, as he is an RFA this summer.
Regardless, color us impressed. He ended up at #8 on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 list. Here is how we each ranked him and what we had to say:
|CIL||Keith||Mike B.||Mark||Mike L.||Chris||Dom|
Showed a penchant for taking more severe beatings than even Moulson and generally came out on top. If he can improve his skating/speed, he's going to be too hard to handle.
I love his hands in tight and his instinct on where the puck's going and when to shoot it. One thing I was surprised to see: he got a LOT of PP time (2:41 per game, 8th on the team) and only had 2 PP goals. He's getting it done at evens, if he adds this he can pot 20 in a year and be very valuable.
I want to love Anders Lee, but I'm trying to temper my enthusiasm with caution.
His return to the Island went a lot better than Jack Shephard's did. But being it was only a quarter of a season has me cautious. His shooting % was kind of high at 13.2%, until you realize that his shooting percentage at Bridgeport was 13.6%.
His skating has always been in question, but he compensates, smartly, with going to the infamous dirty areas. If he stays down there, I think this kid has a career in the NHL.
Settled into the big league, although he still makes mistakes. You can't hate having a power forward or two, to protect the JT's and Stromes on the team
A converted centre, I like Lee's possession game. He needs to further work on his skating, but he has the size and strength you can't teach. Lee is very strong down low, along the boards and behind the net. He's very difficult to move off the puck or from the front of the net. Lee is also good at picking up rebounds or loose pucks in front of the net for scoring chances.
I'm convinced Lee is an NHL player, and he already brings an element to the team it hasn't had in a long time. The question is whether he's Trent Hunter or a power forward who can score 20 to 30 goals consistently.