The New York Islanders have had their fill of priority free agents walking away, after John Tavares abandoned the team this off-season. New GM Lou Lamoriello and the Isles seem to want to get ahead of the situation with their next core player whose eligible to depart. The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that the Islanders have had recent and ongoing negotiations with homegrown forward Anders Lee about a long-term extension.
Lee, 28, is one of a trio of key forwards set to hit the open market next summer. He, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson could all walk after the season, but Lee and Eberle have stressed that their focus is on this year and they both appear open to extensions. Now, those talks are moving forward with Lee at least. Pagnotta states that a new deal is not imminent, but that Lee’s agent, Neil Sheehy, has been frequently talking to Lamoriello with positive results.
Lee led the Islanders in goal scoring last year with a career-high 40 tallies and 62 total points. He has been a consistent top-six contributor for the team in each of his four full NHL seasons and has shown no signs of slowing down. The 6’3″, 230-lb. winger is one of the most lethal power forwards in the league and would draw considerable interest if he was to reach free agency. As a result, the rebuilding Islanders won’t be likely to land a hometown discount, as Pagnotta indicates that Lee could earn upwards of $7MM per year on a long-term contract. Lee’s play this season, in the absence of Tavares, will likely determine his value to the Islanders moving forward. A hot start will give Lamoriello all the more reason to lock him up before it’s too late.