Opportunity is knocking for Anders Lee, the Islanders' recent call up from Bridgeport who appears likely to join Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen on the first line at home against the Sharks Friday night. With Michael Grabner out indefinitely with a concussion, Jack Capuano indicated Lee would be next man up.
"I think Anders Lee deserves an opportunity to move up on that line," Capuano said Wednesday at Ice Works. "He's played well for us. When Grabner went down the last game [in Vancouver] we put him up there with Nielson and Okposo and I thought they really played well . . . So, it's a good combination and most likely that's the guy we'll probably play on that line."
Lee, called up in late February, has five goals and two assists in seven games. He had 22 and 19 for the AHL's Sound Tigers in 54 games. "Everything's been falling into place for me, things have been going well," Lee, 23, said. "I've been playing with some really good guys, whether it's [Ryan] Strome or [Colin] McDonald, Okie or Fransie, it doesn't really matter who. We're all just clicking together. Things are going our way."
Lee, who attended Notre Dame before signing with the Islanders last season, made his NHL debut last April and had a goal and assist in two games. A sixth-round pick by the Islanders in 2009, Lee knew he was destined for Bridgeport.
"You've got to prove yourself at every level and I had to prove myself at the pro level and show the organization that I can play," he said. "I spent some good time in Bridgeport, learned a lot. It's prepared me for what's going on right now. Every game it gets better, the game slows down a little bit and you kind of learn the nuances at the highest level and just try to keep going from there . . . Coming out of college you've got to pick up your speed and your game and your quickness. I've tried to do that as much as possible and I think it's helped me out a lot."
Notes & quotes: Free-agent defenseman Kevin Czuczman, who played collegiately at Lake Superior State, is expected to join the team Thursday. "He's a guy that we targeted early on, he's a guy that we've stayed in touch with," Capuano said. "Just talking to him, he's really excited, he's a good-sized defenseman, fine skater, moves the puck. He's one of the elite defensemen in the [WCHA]. I know there were a lot of teams that were looking at him. We're fortunate that he's going to be an Islander."