7. Anders Lee, LW (99.5pts)
When John Tavares decided to leave the Island to form the Maple Leaf juggernaut, the franchise elected to hand the captain’s C to the 28-year-old from Edina, Minnesota, Anders Lee. Drafted in 2009 out of the Green Bay Gamblers USHL team, the 19-year-old decided to develop through college at Notre Dame before joining the Islanders at the tail end of the 2012-2013 season. The following season, he would bounce between the NHL and the AHL, producing 9 goals and 5 assists in 22 games for the Islanders, and 22 goals and 19 assists in 54 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He began the 14-15 season in Bridgeport, only playing 5 games (where he had 3 goals and 2 assists) before being called up to New York to join the Islanders for a more permanent tenure.
Since then, Anders Lee has always been in a New York Islanders sweater. He would establish career highs in games played each season, with back to back seasons of 82 games played starting in 2017. In the past three seasons, Lee has had 50+ point seasons, with at least 28 goals scored each year and at least 18 assists. He’s the first free agent on this list that could be classified as a pure goal scorer. Since 2009-2010, Anders Lee has had more goals than assists in every season, except for two: 2011-2012 with Notre Dame (17 G, 17A) and 2015-2016 with New York (15G, 21A). Since he has been playing complete seasons with the Islanders, he’s averaging 28.4 goals a year, with a 40 goal season in 2017-2018 and a 34 goal season in 2016-2017.
If Anders Lee makes it to the beginning of Unrestricted Free Agency on July 1st without a new contract with the Islanders and he decides to return to the Twin Cities, there could be a crowding issue with roster space. He would be joining Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, potentially Jordan Greenway, Victor Rask, and Nico Sturm contending for center spots. To sign him, the Wild could try to move Ek or Rask, along with Zucker, who they are actively shopping, to create roster room. I believe Paul Fenton would be willing to give Anders Lee the contract length he has been seeking from the Islanders. My guess is the offer would be as small as $40M/7yrs ($5.71M AAV) or as large as $49M/7yrs ($7M AAV), which might be overpaying a bit, but the Wild would be willing to do, especially if they feel the pool of available prolific scorers are shallow. They could potentially sign a shorter deal at a greater AAV to maximize the prime aged years of Anders Lee’s career.