The New York Islanders have taken a huge step back in the 2013-14 season and are currently looking to trade impending unrestricted free agents they know will not re-sign. To make matters worse, John Tavares and Frans Nielsen are both hurt, and the Islanders are thin at the forward position. It is time to turn to the AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Soundtigers and call up Anders Lee.
Lee is the best prospect the Islanders have at wing in their system and was up with the team briefly last season after deciding to leave the University of Notre Dame. In his first game in the NHL, Lee scored his first career goal on a wrist shot from a weird angle. Unfortunately, Lee struggled in his own end which would lead to him seeing limited ice time for the rest of the season.
Lee is currently leading the Soundtigers with 22 goals and has developed nice rapport with linemate Ryan Strome. Strome is so dynamic with the puck and Lee is natural power forward who is able to get to the net and score. Strome and Lee together in the minors have been an unstoppable combination. What line should Lee play on when he is called up to the Islanders?
With the Islanders’ season essentially over, I don’t want to see Lee come up and play on the fourth line. Lee is not checking line energy forward; he is top-six guy. That being said, I would like to see Lee and Strome get a chance on the second line which has been awful all year. Move Josh Bailey to the third line and give Michael Grabner a chance to play with Strome and Lee. I think that line would have a nice balance of size, speed and creativity, which is something the team could use. It could also display Grabner’s skill if the Islanders decide to trade him before the deadline.
The Islanders need to evaluate their young players and see where they stand come July in the free agent market. Getting a sense of where the prospects are in their development will help GM Garth Snow know what he needs to do in the offseason to make the team better. Besides, the young guys can’t play any worse than the veterans are at this point of the season.