Islanders fans have always been high on Anders Lee and he didn’t let them down as he scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in the NHL back in the 2012/2013 season.
The following season Lee went to Bridgeport to fine tune his game and he did that in spades. If Lee had spent the entire season in Bridgeport he would’ve shattered the team record for goals by a rookie set by his teammate Brock Nelson, but due to time spent with the Islanders he missed out on that. This year, Lee is showing that the Islanders patience with him paid off as he is currently third in the NHL in goals among rookies with 16 and second on the Islanders in goals behind just John Tavares. With his performance to this point, Lee is putting himself in the conversation for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.
God, Anders Lee strides ahead of Brock Nelson & Ryan Strome for that young group. Rookie Of the Year award better consider Lee in the race
— david roth (@silverfoxroth) February 8, 2015
While his goal total is impressive in it of itself for a player in their first full NHL season, the importance of the goals is something to behold as well. Of Lee’s 16 goals on the season, five of them have been of the game winning variety. While he doesn’t always pop up in the score sheet, stats like that prove how much of an impact he has had on the Islanders this season. While he is still early in his NHL career, early signs are that he is going to be someone who excels when things are on the line. With the Islanders looking like they will be a playoff team this season, it will be interesting to see how Lee adjusts. Like I said above, he has been someone who has excelled in big moments of games to this point, but he has yet to be part of the playoffs which are an entire different ballgame.
Although it feels like we have been talking about Lee for a while, he has played in just 71 games in his NHL career. In those 71 games he has 26 goals which puts him on pace for a 30 goal season for 82 games. Lee’s ability in front of the net has been instrumental in his success. No matter if he is tipping pucks home which he has become really good at, or if he is cleaning up dirty goals, the area in front of the net has become Lee’s office as some would say. If Lee is able to consistently put up stats like that, he will have a pretty lengthy career in this league with most of it likely being part of the orange and blue, I would think. As he continues to mature, I believe this is realistic to expect from Lee, especially if the spot next to John Tavares becomes his on a permanent basis.
Is Lee Your Rookie of the Year?
At this point, I would say probably not. Barring injuries, I think Filip Forsberg on the Nashville Predators will take home the award. However, it would be wrong if Lee wasn’t a finalist, along with Forsberg and probably Mike Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators. Lee’s play and importance to the Islanders has definitely made him deserving of that recognition.