New York Islanders Bellows and Toews Could Make 2018-19 Team by Christopher Lizza

In the salary cap era, teams need to find value in the lineup. They need to maximize every dollar. For a New York Islanders team loaded with big money long-term deals for bottom six players, Anders Lee is the best value.

Reading over Emily Kaplan’s piece for ESPN about every NHL team’s best contract I was surprised to read that Robin Lehner got the nod for the New York Islanders.

It’s not that Lehner’s deal isn’t any good. It’s great. A $1.5 million AAV for a single year to a player that can be a good starter in the league is great.

Keep in mind that a .920 SV% starting goalie can carry an AAV from $3.5 million (Andrei Vasilevskiy) to $7 million (Tuukka Rask). Lehner wasn’t a .920 last season, but in 2016-17 he was. In 53 games played he had a 2.68 GAA and .920 SV%.

If Lehner can somehow find that kind of form the Islanders will have struck absolute gold.

But what about a player that’s scored 74 goals in the last two seasons? Goal scoring is a premium in the league, having the eighth highest goal scorer in the league for less than the competition means more than taking a flyer on Lehner.

How Lee Compares

Just like Kaplan did for her piece, I’m not going to consider entry-level deals. ELC are capped and immediately represents incredible value for the team. They were designed to create value. So yes, with ELCs Mathew Barzal has the best deal on the team.

But unlike Kaplan, I won’t discredit Lee for having a year left on his deal. She uses the following argument to discredit Anders Lee:

 The best returning forwards, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee, have relatively good deals, but they expire next summer and who knows how they’ll fare in a post-John Tavares world.

That very same argument can be applied to Robin Lehner who is on a single year deal thanks to Buffalo not giving him a qualifying offer because of his inconsistent play. We know Robin Lehner can be inconsistent, we know he can have a bad year. That’s why the Islanders are paying him $1.5 million for a season.

For Lee, a player with back-to-back 30+ goal seasons it’s safe to bet that Anders Lee is what he is. And comparing him to some equally high scoring forwards last season and over the last two seasons, Lee is an absolute bargain.

 Comparables in 2017-18 Goals Cap Hit* $/G
William Karlson 43 $1 $23,255.81
Tyler Seguin 40 $5.75 $143,750.00
Nikita Kucherov 39 $4.766 $122,222.23
Anders Lee 40 $3.75 $93,750.00

*Cap hit in millions. Cap figures from

Obviously, William Karlsson’s 43 goal season and $1 million cap hit represent the best value in the league. But based on similar production Anders Lee isn’t too far away in the bargain bin with a $93,750 hit per goal. League-wide, not just among the Islanders.

Now for the same analysis but over the last two seasons where Lee was the fifth highest goal scorer in the NHL with 74 goals.

 Comparables since 2016-17 Goals Cap Hit* $/G
Evgeni Malkin 75 $19 $253,333.33
Brad Marchand 73 $10.625 $145,547.95
Sidney Crosby 73 $17.4 $238,356.16
Anders Lee 74 $7.5 $101,351.35

*Cap hit in millions and summed up over the previous two seasons. Cap figures from

Take a second to look at the company Lee is in. Auston Matthews also has 74 goals over the last two seasons but didn’t make the list because of his ridiculous ELC. At a $101,351.35 cost per goal, Lee has one of the best deals in the league. In. The. League.

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Lee’s incredible goal scoring rate make his $3.75 million cap hit the absolute gem within the team.  That might not last once his next deal is negotiated, but right now, Lee represents the best value. Unlike Lehner, the Islanders know what they’re getting from Lee. And its buckets of goals for cheap.

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