Contract talks between Anders Lee and the New York Islanders have come to a standstill. If he hits free agency, the Blackhawks would be wise to inquire.
The New York Islanders could be on the verge of losing their captain for the 2nd straight season. Tavares left for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now current captain, Anders Lee, could be following in Tavares’ footsteps.
The Islanders may have shown their hand by signing both Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle before they struck a deal with Lee. This isn’t to say they won’t get a deal done, but it’s looking less likely with each passing day.
Eberle was just given a 5-year, $27.5 mil ($5.5 mil AAV) contract which seems like money that may have originally been intended for Lee.
If the Islanders and Lee aren’t able to come to terms, then the Blackhawks should absolutely inquire about him.
What Does Anders Lee Have to Offer?
Anders Lee is a big bodied left winger who stands at 6’3″ 231 lbs. Size is something that the Blackhawks don’t much of right now, so he would add another dimension to the team’s makeup.
Although Lee is a bigger player, he is actually fairly agile and his hand-eye coordination is top notch.
Lee would be a welcome addition for many reasons, but maybe the most important ones are his cycling ability and puck possession. He uses his size and strength to his advantage.
Since he plays more of a physical game, you may have questions about his durability. Durability is actually a non-issue for Lee, as he played in 76+ games from 2014-2019. He is turning 29 on July 3rd, so you have to think he still has a few prime seasons left in the tank.
Last season, Anders Lee produced 51 points (28G, 23A) with a 20 ± rating in 82 games. These 51 points would have been tied with Dylan Strome for 5th most on the Blackhawks last season.
Lee recorded a 40 goal season in 2017-18 and has now produced 3 consecutive 51+ points seasons. The Blackhawks’ power play would definitely see a nice boost as well.
A big part of Anders Lee’s game is his screening ability. He loves to create havoc in the dirty areas around the net. If you haven’t been able to see Lee in action, here’s your chance. His skills are on full display in this highlight reel.
Where Would Anders Lee Fit With the Blackhawks?
Anders Lee can fit in a couple of different roles. One role would be as a 3rd line checking forward, which he filled this postseason with the Islanders, and the other would be on the top line as a complimentary player.
I believe Lee would fit in nicely on the top line here in Chicago. If it were up to me, I think the following lines would work pretty well.
Potential Blackhawks lines in 2019-20:
Anders Lee is about to be 29 years old, so his next contract will be a long term one at a moderate value. Evolving Wild is currently projecting a 7-year, $46.76 mil ($6.68 mil AAV) contract for Lee this offseason.
Of course, there’s usually room to negotiate during free agency, but I would expect his asking price to start at $6 mil.
While he may not be the biggest name, Anders Lee is a big-time player literally and figuratively. I believe the Blackhawks would become a much more balanced team after adding him to the mix.
We’ll have to wait and see what the Islanders decide to do in the next coming days and weeks, but Lee is definitely a name to keep an eye on. Free agency officially opens on July 1st.