It seems like the New York Islanders and Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello are prepared to let their captain, Anders Lee, hit unrestricted free agency while they go searching for bigger fish during the National Hockey League's free agent period.
Lee expressed frustration with the process earlier this month and now with just hours left to go before that July 1st date it seems almost certain that Lee is walking to free agency at midnight. There have been a number of teams linked to Lee throughout the last month or so but over the week end Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider dropped a rather interested rumor during an interview on the NHL Network.
Friedman was asked about possible destinations for Anders Lee during the interview and he mentioned the Montreal Canadiens as a potential landing spot. This is a big rumor not only due to the fact that it would be a huge addition for the Habs, but also due to the fact that general manager Marc Bergevin has been notoriously good at keeping information from leaking outside of his inner circle.
"Well I do think Anders Lee is a guy who has had a bit of interest. Another team that we don't get much out of is Montreal but I have heard him linked to there... It hasn't been easy to pinpoint it but guys have told me Montreal is going to do something and don't be surprised if he is on their radar."
This by no means makes this a done deal, however the fact that the Habs are going big game hunting in the offseason is a clear indication that they do not believe their success last season was a fluke. It will be interesting to see how much money and term Lee can command on the open market, Friedman appeared to indicate that there has been less talk about Lee than other potential free agent forwards like San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski.
Lee is coming off a solid season in which he recorded 28 goals and 23 assists for a total of 51 points over an 82 game stretch. His goal production dropped considerably from the season prior and perhaps that is why Lamoriello and the Islanders have shied away from committing big money to him.