NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When John Tavares bolted during free agency in July, not only were the Islanders suddenly down a franchise player, they were also left without a captain.
On Thursday, just hours before they were to drop the puck on the 2018-19 regular season at Carolina, the Isles filled the void, naming Anders Lee captain.
“It’s extremely humbling, quite an honor to be a captain of this organization. It’s definitely one of the most special things that’s happened in my hockey career,” Lee said.
Lee seemed a fairly straight forward choice, given his personality and stature within the organization. The 28-year-old, who is now in his sixth season, has been leading by example the last several seasons, developing into one of the better power forwards in the NHL. He posted career highs of 40 goals, 22 assists and 62 points during the 2017-18 regular season and will be heavily relied upon to help compensate for the loss of Tavares, whose 84 points were one behind team leader Mathew Barzal last season.
“When I first got the opportunity to coach the Islanders, we talked to every player. It was clear as day to me that Anders would be the fifteenth captain of the Islanders,” new head coach Barry Trotz said.
Another intriguing aspect to Lee’s ascension as team leader is the fact that he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Islanders reportedly have been in discussions with his representatives on a long-term contract extension, but nothing appears imminent. Lee will earn $5 million this season, which will conclude the four-year, $15 million deal he signed in the summer of 2015.
A native of Edina, Minnesota, Lee was selected by the Islanders in the sixth round (151st overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. He has played in 343 career games, scoring 207 points, including 124 goals.
The Islanders also announced veterans Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck and Andrew Ladd will be the alternate captains.
New York, which missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, made several changes during the offseason, including hiring veteran executive Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and general manager, as well as Trotz, who led the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup championship last season.