Anxiety and frustration continue to plague the New York Islanders fan base for the second consecutive year, with both UFA captain, Anders Lee, and Vezina trophy finalist, Robin Lehner, left unsigned.
So I, much like most if not all of the New York Islanders fan-base, continue to press the “refresh” button on my respective web-browser – feverishly awaiting any type of news on the Anders Lee and Robin Lehner contract situations.
Yes – as if the potential of losing a second captain in a two year span isn’t enough to produce a fit of a stomach ulcer, the Islanders also face the possibility of letting a 27-year old Vezina Finalist walk away as well.
Being a fan of both people myself, I took a long shower, brewed my favorite cup o’ Joe, and semi-rationally came to a few conclusions that I feel we all must learn to come to.
For this, I will focus on Anders Lee’s situation specifically, and I’m going to start by being completely blunt:
Committing long-term to Anders Lee is not a smart idea.
Before last season, I’ve shouted from the rafters that Lee should be a $6-7m for 5-6 years guy – and I continue to
stand by that. Anything more than that would be a big risk. Setting the off-ice intangibles aside for a second, a guy like Anders Lee isn’t built for long-term success.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to the man or the player for that, but history is on the side of that theory – and it’s hard to argue.
His style of play just isn’t conducive for long-term production. Need some examples?
Example 1 : Milan Lucic – Edmonton Oilers
Player stats, meet cliff… You can literally hear the Wile E Coyote falling sound when talking about his production since 2016.
During the 2017-2018 season (Milan’s 29th birthday year) in 82 games he managed to put up a stat-line of 10-goals, 24-assists, for 34-points – all while playing substantial minutes with some guy named McDavid… The following year (now 30 years old), Lucic continued his slide with accumulating 6-goals, 14-assists, for 20-points, in 79 games… His most productive years were from age 22 – 28, with a career-high year in 2010-2011, at 30-goals, 32-assists, and 62-points… Milan was 22 years old during that year.
And all of this production (or lack there-of) is with a $6-million dollar AAV, through the 2022-2023 season. Lucic will be 34-years old when this contract is officially up.
Example 2 : Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks
I’m lumping Perry in here for the simple fact that his stats have been falling off since his 28th birthday. Granted, not to the degree of a Lucic, but it’s still happening.
Corey Perry also plays an agitating, aggressive style whose not afraid to get into the paint. As of late, Corey’s also been injury plagued, much to the chagrin of all of his fans as it caused the Ducks to have abandon-ship on his $8.625m AAV contract, by subsequently buying him out.
Corey Perry is currently now 34 years old, looking for a job on another team. More than likely will be at a great discount.
Example 3 : Todd Bertuzzi – Retired
Ahhh, the memories of the truck with number-44 plastered on his back, smashing into everything that would get in his way toward the front of the net.
Yet another guy whose production plummeted after his 28th birthday. Well, mostly anyway. Todd had a positive blip in his stats in his 30th birthday year, by putting up 25-goals, 46-assists, for 71-points. But that was it…
Every season-after was injury ridden, with the production of a player on the bottom rung of the league. At the time, he was getting paid top dollar in relation to the rest of the league.
And the list goes on…
Lou Lamoriello is not going to put this franchise in a contract bind paying an aging player top-dollar, while NOT getting the production that money should be providing.
As much as it hurts to say it, since this is the captain, and a great person on and off the ice – but Lou’s 100% correct here.
Lee says he wants it to work out to stay on The Island, but at what cost?
He’s going to be 29-years old at the start of next season. History tells us his stats WILL take a hit from this point on. Should he strap the franchise for $6-7m per year for 7-8 years?!
Let’s say he’s still fairly productive at 34 years old (a very rare occurrence, and certainly NOT the norm). That would mean the Islanders would be on the hook for another 2-3 years of what’s pretty much guaranteed to be sub-par years – not worth the $7m AAV they’ll be responsible for. And that’s the best case!
Again, history tells us – that would be a TERRIBLE idea.
We’re all obviously NOT privy to any of these negotiations, but it has been hinted (and it’s pretty well documented) that term is the hold-up with any agreement at this time.
You cannot blame Anders for wanting a long-term deal. Hell, this is his livelihood. He has every right to get all of the money he can. But in the same token, the Islanders have the right to not be the team on the hook for 2-3+ years of low production, while paying top dollar.
Yes, he’s the captain. He’s a great asset for the community. He’s a noted GREAT teammate and leader.
But so is Andrew Ladd….How’s that working out?
If Anders Lee really wants to stay and see this run through, he needs to understand the “comparables” are NOT in his favor. That’s just a fact that cannot be overlooked. If there’s a team willing to essentially take a substantial loss for a third-plus of a contract, then have at it.
The major question in all of this for the Islanders is – If Lee walks, who fills in?
I just don’t know.
It’s probably safe to assume Lamoriello would hit the market hard as ever for Artemi Panarin, but ok – what if that doesn’t work out?! Would a guy like Panarin be willing to come over after the team let one of their top goal producers walk? Who knows…?!
I think it’s a safe bet the ideal situation would be for the Isles to “add” on top of keeping a guy like Anders, rather than having to replace the guy.
Personnel-wise, there are a ton of question marks for this lineup with Anders – especially with the top-6 forwards…
Without him? Oh boy.
Follow/trash me on Twitter – @brasqo