At the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the New York Rangers selected Swedish forward Lias Andersson with the seventh overall pick, one which they acquired in a deal with the Arizona Coyotes earlier that day. The pick was considered a reach by many, considering their were names such as Gabriel Vilardi, Nicholas Suzuki, and Timothy Liljegren still available. But Andersson is indeed a solid pick, he possesses suburb hockey knowledge and awareness, great play-making skills, and a net driving force like no other.
Lias Andersson to the New York Rangers
“It’s been amazing. A dream come true,” Andersson told the NY Daily News about being drafted by the Rangers. “To be able to be here, it’s such a phenomenal place, a great organization, a great group of guys in there and a very good staff over here. Everything’s amazing. Just enjoying the time here. I want to make it all the way to the first game in October. That’s my goal. I know it’s very, very tough, but you have to try and I’m gonna work for it every day.”
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 23, 2017
Andersson has a fair chance at cracking the Rangers lineup this fall. With Prospect Development Camp now, training the rest of the summer, and then the team’s pre-season camp, Andersson will have all the time,and opportunity to prove he is worthy of that roster spot.
It is still up in the air at this point with whether or not Andersson will return to Sweden for another year or jump immediately into the NHL. He is still 18-years-old and has time to mature, but with the Rangers currently down two center-men, only time will tell.
A Look at Andersson and His Potential
Andersson stands at 6’0″, 200 pounds and shoots left. He primarily plays at the center position, but can also play either left or right wing. TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie called Andersson the “Swedish Army Knife”, praising him for his ability to be able to fill in needed spots as they come and to be able to do a good job.
In the 2015-16 season with the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), Andersson posted zero points in 22 games played. He was still 17 years old at the time. So, he bumped himself down to the SuperElit, where he notched 59 points in 39 games played. This move helped him not only prove his worth to scouts from the NHL, but also allowed him to mature and improve his play. The next season, 2016-17, he returned to the SHL and in 42 games played scored nine goals and added 10 assists. This season also included a huge surge later in the season which continued into the postseason, ultimately leading up to him and his team , HV71, winning the SHL Championship.
Andersson is no stranger to winning. HV71 is one of the top teams in the SHL, and Andersson has experienced many wins with them, this is a great attribute to have when coming to New York City. The Metropolitan Division is only getting stronger and the New York Rangers need to compete if they want to chase after the Stanley Cup. If Andersson cracks the Rangers lineup this season, he will most likely play a bottom 6 position and see some time on the power-play.
While his offensive scoring abilities need some work, his play-making and net driving skills are impressive. Andersson allows himself enough space to make a move on a defender and get to the net mouth. He either then passes it off or will take a shot. It is fair to say that 50% of his goals last season game from within five feet of the crease. He extends his body and stick to loop around goaltenders and find a way to get the puck in. Andersson is not afraid to get to the front of the net and engage in contact. He also possesses a wicked shot from far out. His speed is great and his aim good as well.
His hockey sense is super as well. Andersson knows where he is at all times in relation to the blue line, defensemen, and goaltenders. He knows when and when he can’t make a play and will go from there. This summer with the Rangers, he will most likely be working on his scoring capabilities and his overall shot/selection. His scoring was rated a three (out of five) and his area of improvement was labeled as “Offense” by TSN’s Craig Button.
Andersson can be a valuable piece to the New York Rangers offense. He has the speed and net front presence that the Rangers thrive off of. He can give his teammates chances to score. Perhaps what is most exciting to think about is how he can park himself in front of the goalie; provide a screen; and once a shot comes through- a possible tip in; something the Rangers like to do a lot. Button compares Andersson to Jesper Fast, and this is very agreeable. The two play similar styles of game and will maybe even be playing together.