Anders Lee, the Islanders’ captain, will miss the remainder of the 2021 season with a knee damage, Lou Lamoriello, the crew president and basic supervisor, mentioned Wednesday.
Lee, 30, had injured his proper knee throughout final Thursday’s dwelling win over the Devils when he turned entangled with the Devils ahead Pavel Zacha. Lee is tied with Brock Nelson for a team-leading 12 objectives on the playoff-contending Islanders (19-7-4). Lamoriello anticipated that Lee could be prepared for subsequent season following his restoration.
“It’s an A.C.L. and that’s as far as I will go,” Lamoriello mentioned in a video information convention. “Doctors are extremely comfortable with 100 percent recovery because of the type of injury that he has.”
He added: “It will not be as bad as a lot of A.C.L. injuries are because there is nothing else damaged.”
Before the damage, sturdiness had been a hallmark for Lee, who signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Islanders in July 2019. He was enjoying in his 295th consecutive recreation when he was damage. Lee, drafted in the sixth spherical by the Islanders in 2009, has 184 profession objectives in 520 video games.
Lee’s absence creates a dilemma for Lamoriello, who should determine whether or not to commerce for a momentary substitute or stand pat with the present squad, whose 42 factors is tied with the East Division-leading Washington Capitals with 26 video games remaining in the common season. The Islanders have a 9-1 file of their previous 10 video games and have been notably sturdy at Nassau Coliseum all through the season, holding a 12-0-2 file there heading into dwelling video games towards Philadelphia on Thursday and Saturday.
With Lee on long-term injured reserve, the Islanders could have some wage cap flexibility for the remainder of the season and thus the probability to amass a scoring ahead like Buffalo’s Taylor Hall or the Devils’ Kyle Palmieri, who will change into unrestricted free brokers after the season.
“It certainly changes our focus,” Lamoriello mentioned. “You lose a player like that, the role that he plays — our leading goal-scorer up until his injury. If we can get ourselves better, we will. But we will not do something just for the sake of doing it.”
Lee brings a fierce presence to the lineup, unafraid to put himself in entrance of an opponent’s internet to display screen the goalie and take the bodily punishment that comes from it. He has thrived on a line with the winger Jordan Eberle and the scoring middle Mathew Barzal.
In Lee’s absence, Islanders Coach Barry Trotz had positioned the 22-year-old winger Kieffer Bellows into Lee’s spot. Bellows, drafted in the first spherical by the Islanders in 2016, additionally has a rugged type of play and scored three objectives in two wins over the Devils final weekend.
Lee’s quiet management had benefited the Islanders, who’ve reached the playoffs the previous two seasons beneath Trotz and seem like poised to make their third consecutive postseason look, however this time with out their captain. Lee additionally missed the crew’s playoff run in 2016 when he suffered a damaged left fibula in a late-season recreation towards the Rangers.
Lee has earned the respect of teammates and Islander alumni alike by way of his play and group of charity occasions. When the Islanders retired the four-time Stanley Cup winner John Tonelli’s No. 27 final 12 months, Tonelli made a level of praising Lee, who continues to put on No. 27 with Tonelli’s approval.
“I consider 27 to be our number,’’ Tonelli said at the time. “It’s not just mine.”
As the Islanders transfer ahead with out Lee, Lamoriello maintains confidence in his gamers, who reached the convention finals final summer season.
“We’re not asking someone to do anything different, just to maximize their talents,” he mentioned. “Collectively that’s how you have success. I have said this day in and day out through my whole career, individual players will help you win games but teams will win championships. All teams go through these types of obstacles. You just have to overcome them.”