The Case For Anders Lee and the New York Rangers
First off, I’m aware this is kind of random and out of the blue, but the more I think about it, the more I think this might not be the worst idea.
I’ve had this thought for a while now and if the market goes in a different direction, the Rangers should be open to exploring it. Anders Lee, the “passionate” new captain of the New York Islanders is approaching free agency and the signs all seem to him hitting the market once July 1st comes. That’s not to say that he won’t re-sign with the Isles but it’s definitely a far cry from his indirect comments and attitude after previous captain John Tavares left for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
That in mind, you would think he’d want to stay with the Islanders on a team friendly contract or at least, sign a deal before hitting free agency. Lo and behold, as mentioned previously, all signs seem to him hitting the market, looking for the value his play is worth, just like that Tavares guy before him.
Lee has every right to test the market and look for a contract that fits the value he think’s he’s worth. Now, I’m not saying Lee is worth a Patrick Kane or Erik Karlsson type contract, but he’s a talented enough player to garner more than what he was making with the Islanders.
Anders Lee stands at 6 foot 3, and weighs 231lbs, meaning he’s a big body. Not the greatest of skaters but a solid two way forward with strong hand eye coordination and a willingness to battle in front of the net along with keeping a strong possession and cycle going. Fresh off a 40 goal campaign two seasons ago, he is talented enough to play against top lines and is a strong asset on the power play. Lee is also known to be a fierce competitor and his work ethic shows throughout his game. Alongside that, having been in the NHL for 6 plus years and a captain, he’s shown strong leadership skills, playing a huge part in the Islanders resurgence back into the postseason in the previous campaign.
Has great size for the the National Hockey League level, so he knows how to use his 6-3 frame to cycle effectively and maintain puck possession. Is a load to handle in front of the opposing goal and usually scores a lot of his tallies around the blue paint. Due to his size and tremendous hand/eye coordination, he is a major asset on the power play. Can score goals in bunches, too. Lacks game-to-game consistency. His leadership and work ethic are unquestioned.
Now, with all that mentioned, would it be a good idea for the New York Rangers to pursue Anders Lee? Why not!
Obviously, the Rangers main target in free agency is Artemi Panarin, hands down. Reports coming out that the Islanders and Panthers are also interested in Panarin’s services make that possibility of Panarin coming to the Rangers go up in the air. Jeff Skinner, another option, is off the market and if Panarin signs elsewhere, bringing in Anders Lee could do this team a load of good than most think.
Ideally, a 3-4 year contract valued at around 6 to 7 million would more than likely get the deal done if the Rangers were to explore it. Comparing it to a James van Riemsdyk contract, it might be a little more since Lee is younger and has out produced van Riemsdyk in the goal category (a tiny bit but not too much of a large margin between the two).
Additionally, as mentioned above, being a large skilled player, Lee could work well with young and talented guys like a Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko. Putting a large body on a wing or down the middle with these two, or any of the youth the Rangers boast could propel their skills and lift the Rangers offense to a different level. Not that he himself would do it, but his strong leadership skills and never give up style of play can open lanes and chances around the ice, which means more room for the young guys to work. Supplement his style to an already lethal power play with Zibanejad along with Fox and Trouba, a player like him could make a difference.
Also, if he were to join the Rangers, one could make the assumption that he would want to stick it to his former employer. Now that the Rangers are trying to build a winner, divisional games are always important and having someone with a chip on their shoulder could make a difference if it came down to it.
In summary, this might not happen and the chances the Rangers are looking at Anders Lee could be slim to none. I do not know what is going through the minds of Rangers brass but I can say this, if the opportunity presents itself, I don’t see how taking a look at Anders Lee would hurt.