Just hours before the start of the 2017 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers completed a blockbuster trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for the 7th overall pick and Tony DeAngelo. That selection turned into Lias Andersson, who at the time was projected as a “safe” pick in terms of sliding right into an NHL lineup. Management clearly did Andersson no favors by setting those high expectations right from the get-go, leading us to where we are today.
Through his first two years as a professional in North America, Andersson has appeared in more AHL games than NHL contests. As a result, many are already labeling the young Swede as a bust before he turns 21 years old. With high expectations based on his draft position, and not cracking David Quinn’s 2018-2019 opening-night lineup, Andersson has become a major talking point.
The start to Lias Andersson’s 2018-2019 campaign was anything but positive. Despite being named the top rookie in training camp, Andersson lost a roster spot to Brett Howden and was demoted to the Hartford Wolf Pack. In the 14 games that followed, Andersson tallied four goals and eight assists, leading to an early-season recall on November 5.
Through his first 21 games with the Rangers, Andersson registered just three points and averaged around 10 minutes per game on the fourth line. Nearly a month and a half after his recall, a combination of Andersson’s play and the Rangers getting healthy led to his second demotion of the season. The pivot was recalled for a third and final time just prior to the trade deadline in late February.
While the offensive production was more of the same, there was a noticeable difference in Andersson’s defensive posture during that mid-season stint in New York. At the beginning of the season Andersson looked lost at times in the defensive zone, and it’s clear that the time in Hartford cleaned up that area of his game.
Here’s a look Andersson’s statistics throughout the year with the Rangers.
Final Grade: C+
Banter Consensus: C
Overall, despite Andersson’s season being a bit underwhelming, he was serviceable in short bursts with limited ice time on the fourth line. His offensive production is a bit concerning at the NHL level, but again, he’s still a kid and has more than enough time to develop. The Rangers have plenty of young prospects coming into the picture next season, and they will all have a chance to grow together as the Rangers continue to build toward the future.
The good news is Andersson can only improve from here, and he already showed signs between recalls last season. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together for the 20-year old Swede. He’ll have another chance next season to prove his worth and hopefully secure a roster spot for opening night.
2019 Report Cards: Ryan Strome / Filip Chytil / Brendan Lemieux / Tony DeAngelo / Chris Kreider / Pavel Buchnevich / Neal Pionk / Cristoval Nieves / Kevin Shattenkirk / Marc Staal / Jimmy Vesey / Brady Skjei / Connor Brickley / Vladislav Namestnikov/ Vinni Lettieri/ Brendan Smith / Fredrik Claesson / Assistant Coaches / Henrik Lundqvist / Alexandar Georgiev / Mika Zibanejad