Lee took a big step back from a goal-scoring standpoint in his second full NHL season; he had 15 on 183 SOG after having 25 on 197 SOG playing mostly with John Tavares as a rookie. Veteran Andrew Ladd has the inside track on the top-line LW spot after signing a seven-year contract with the Islanders, but Lee remains a threat to regain his old spot or build chemistry on a young second line with rookie Mathew Barzal and bounce-back hopeful Ryan Strome. Lee, who missed all 11 of New York’s postseason games because of a broken fibula, can return to the 20-goal realm and build on his strong category coverage (51 PIMs, 14 PPP) as long as he remains on the Islanders’ first power-play unit.
Stat projection: 22 goals, 26 assists, plus-3, 46 PIMs, 16 PPP, 194 SOG
My take: Lee will not be playing on the top-line LW unless there is an injury to Andrew Ladd. I like Jensen’s projection of Lee’s assists, but I feel Anders could notch 25 or more goals with Ryan Strome or Mathew Barzal at center, and possibly Josh Bailey on the RW side as he is also a pass first forward. Whether Bailey should be on the second line can be debated later or let training camp decide, but the point is this: The Isles are shaping up to have two legitimate scoring lines. A bounce back year from both Strome, Lee and the Josh Bailey from game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning (2 goals in 1 game) and you have something that has not been around on this team for some time. Gone is the coaching mindset “If you stop Tavares, you stop the Islanders.” Teams won’t be able to do that any longer, and that excites me. When does the puck drop?