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Islanders sign Lee to entry-level contract

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- New York Islanders center Anders Lee has experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in a span of three days.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior at the University of Notre Dame experienced the disappointment of elimination from the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals by fourth-seeded St. Cloud State. That ended any hope top-seeded Notre Dame had at reaching the Frozen Four.

Two days later, however, he signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the team that drafted him in sixth round (No. 152) of the 2009 Draft.

While Lee will not play for the Islanders against the New Jersey Devils on Monday at Prudential Center, he did join his teammates for their morning practice.

"To have this opportunity is once in a lifetime, and you have to be able to take advantage of it and be ready for it," Lee said. "It's something as a hockey player … having a chance to play in the NHL is something you can't turn away from."

Islanders coach Jack Capuano expects Lee to be in the lineup sooner rather than later.

"He's going to play … he wouldn't be here if we weren't going to utilize him," Capuano said. "But it's his first day with the guys, so we'll go over some systems and make sure he's comfortable. We don't want him thinking too much. We want him to just go out and play the way he's capable of playing within our team structure, but he'll get his opportunity."

Lee, 22, recently completed his junior season with the Irish. He had 20 goals and 38 points in 41 games, and has 61 goals and 116 points in 125 games spanning three seasons.

Prior to beginning his collegiate career, Lee also played a season for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, registering 35 goals and 66 points in 59 games.

"The coaches at Notre Dame have done a lot and I wouldn't be here without them," Lee said. "They taught me the fundamentals of the game, being in position and moving my feet. They also reminded me that it's just as important to be responsible off the ice as it is on."

Does Lee consider this a chance to do what Chris Kreider accomplished with the New York Rangers after Boston College captured the national championship last season?

Kreider signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Rangers on April 10, 2012, and would produce five goals and seven points in 18 playoff games for the Blueshirts.

"It's not going to be easy, and it'll be an adjustment, but the coaches believe in me and I believe in myself," Lee said. "We have great guys in this locker room and it's been an easy transition to get to know everyone so far. That makes this transition easier as well."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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