Anders Lee's rookie season ended unhappily, with the 25-goal scorer sitting out Games 6 and 7 of the Islanders' playoff loss to the Caps as a healthy scratch.
That ending didn't deter Lee or change his feelings about the team. He signed a four-year, $15-million contract on Tuesday, committing to the Isles and to his future as a key young forward of a team still on the rise.
"It never crossed my mind," Lee told Newsday about whether his feelings regarding the Isles changed after the two playoff benchings. "You always want to be in the big games, the big situations with your teammates. But that doesn't change where I want to be. This has been my home and this is where I wanted to be."
Lee, who turns 25 on Friday, has been a goal scorer since his days at Notre Dame and that continued last season, his first full year in the NHL. After a weeklong demotion to Bridgeport out of training camp, Lee came up to the Isles and scored 25 goals in 76 games, giving him 35 goals in 100 career NHL contests.
He was a restricted free agent and the four-year term bought back one year of unrestricted free agency. Defenseman Thomas Hickey is expected to sign a three-year deal worth $2.2 million per year Wednesday, leaving only Brock Nelson as the Isles' lone unsigned restricted free agent. Free agency begins at noon today.
Lee and Nelson won bronze medals for the U.S. team at the World Championships in the Czech Republic last month, a quick turnaround from the disappointing end to the Isles' season.
"It was great," Lee said. "I'd never represented my country before, we won bronze with a young team. It was great to just go and enjoy playing."
Sign up for Newsday’s Islanders texts with a 14-day free trial at newsday.com/islestext.