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Number seven on Islander Country's list of top ten prospects in the Islanders' system is 2009 sixth round pick (152nd overall, and absolute late round steal), forward Anders Lee.
Lee, a U.S. born forward from St. Paul, Minnesota, spent most of last season playing his junior year in college with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. In 41 games with the Fighting Irish, Lee posted 20 goals, 18 assists, 38 points, and 37 PIM. It was Lee's third solid season with the Fighting Irish as he continued his development.
After the Fighting Irish's season ended, Lee signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Isles. Lee, made a brief appearance with the Isles in April as he played in two games. In those two games Lee had a goal and an assist, but was also a minus three. Lee, looked overwhelmed in the defensive end, so the Isles could not play him and risk the defensive liability at such a crucial juncture of the season.
At 6'2" 220 pounds, Lee has great size and has the raw skills and potential to be a top six power forward at the NHL level. Lee, uses his size well to shield the puck from the opponent as he drives the net. He is very strong on the puck too, and it is hard for the opponent to knock Lee's big frame off the puck.
Lee, also has a good, accurate wrist shot, where he has a quick release and can get the puck on net quickly. All Lee has done is score goals in each season/level he has played so far in his career. In 2009-2010, Lee played with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), and scored 35 goals in 59 games. The following three years while Lee attended Notre Dame, he scored 61 goals in 125 games while he played with the Fighting Irish.
A strong work ethic and leadership skills are two other traits Lee possess. Lee, works very hard to improve his game, and he was the captain of the Fighting Irish last season. Character is something the Isles covet in their players (see the Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck trade), and it looks like they have another high character and potential leader type player in Lee.
Lee, is a versatile forward, which will help him within the Isles' organization too. A natural center, Lee also can play left-wing, and the Isles will likely develop him as a left-wing with the current log jam they have at center up and down the organization.
With all the potential Lee possess, there are some aspects to his game he needs to improve on. As we saw in his short two game stint with the Isles last season, Lee needs to work on his play in defensive zone. That is something that should be expected though, as many players who transition from college or juniors to the pros need to adjust their game defensively. Lee works hard, and I am sure he will become a more reliable defensive forward as he plays in Bridgeport this season.
The other part of Lee's game that he needs to work on is his skating. He has worked hard to improve his skating, but needs to continue to work on it. If he does not, it will become easier for opponents to take the puck away from Lee. This could be the difference between Lee becoming a top six or bottom six forward. Again, Lee works very hard at his game so I am sure he realizes this and will continue to work on his skating technique.
With so many forwards fighting for what likely will only be one open forward spot in September, Lee likely is ticketed for Bridgeport in the fall. In Bridgeport, Lee will likely play on one of the top two lines and will get plenty of playing time to round out and improve his game. Lee has all the skills and raw talent to become a top six power forward at the NHL level. If he can round out his game quickly, it will not be long before we see Lee back on Long Island.
What do you guys think? Is Lee ranked too high or too low at seven? Comments are more than welcome!
Here are the honorable mentions to number eight:
The Honorable Mentions
Number Ten, Johan Sundstrom
Number Nine, Andrey Pedan
Number Eight, Matt Donovan
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