Islanders keep captain Anders Lee with $49 million deal

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The New York Islanders will not be losing a captain for the second straight summer after all.

Anders Lee is staying in New York after agreeing to a seven-year, $49 million deal. He was not eligible to get an eighth year since he did not re-sign before July 1.

It was no secret that Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello courted Artemi Panarin, but with the forward deciding for Broadway and the New York Rangers, bringing back Lee was the clear option. Lee, who was named captain last October following John Tavares’ departure, scored 28 goals and recorded 51 points in 82 games during the 2018-19 NHL season. 

Negotiations between Lee and the Islanders were mainly about term. Lee, who turns 29 on Wednesday, wanted term and the team did not want to go that long on a new deal for the captain.

“I didn’t think we’d get to this point. The process hasn’t … I haven’t enjoyed it, but it is what it is,” Lee said last week of the free agent interview period. Despite that, he remained confident that a deal with the Islanders would get done.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Reports had the Montreal Canadiens interested in Lee, with a potential cap hit coming in around $9 million, but the Sebastian Aho offer sheet situation put a monkey wrench into that plan.

The $7 million cap hit is a huge jump from the $3.75 million his previous deal signed in 2015 carried. Lamoriello now has a little over $13 million in cap space, per Cap Friendly, to spend and decisions needed on restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle. The other move that is needed to finding a goaltender to share the net with Thomas Greiss. Robin Lehner appears to be headed elsewhere, so has the door swung open for Semyon Varlamov to head to Long Island as good pal Ilya Sorokin waits in the wings?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.