With their first selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft the New York Rangers have selected Lias Andersson at #7 overall!
It was a little surreal, but it wasn’t a dream. The words “The New York Rangers are on the clock” were displayed in lights on the floor of the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. With their triumphant return to the first round, the team had not one but two picks. With their first, number 7 overall, the Rangers took Lias Andersson.
For Andersson, it will be a day that he will remember for the rest of his life. New York Rangers’ senior scout Anders Kallur announced that Lias Andersson was a New York Ranger.
As is well documented, Andersson is the Rangers’ first first round draft selection since Brady Skjei in 2012. Fairly or not, because of this, there will be a lot of pressure on him to be a success on Broadway, and soon.
What do we know about the newest Ranger?
Lias Andersson is versatile forward who is advertised to be able to play all three forward positions. He last played for HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League. Last season, he totaled 9 goals and 19 points in 42 games. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but it should be noted that they were accomplished by an 18 year old playing in a man’s professional league.
The pundits on NBCSN listed Chris Kunitz as a comparable for Andersson. This is not to say that Andersson will turn into a clone of Kunitz, but gives a good idea of his style of play.
Here’s what the scouting report from Jameson Olive has to say about Andersson:
"A high-energy player with a motor that just doesn’t quit, Andersson has proven himself to be an effective player in all three zones. He’s not afraid to use his 5-foot-11, 198-pound frame to fight for loose pucks and places a strong emphasis on matching his offensive output with solid backchecking on defense."
At face value, this sounds like a classic Rangers selection. Andersson is a hard working, well rounded European player with NHL bloodlines. Andersson’s father Nicklas, played 165 NHL games in the 90’s.
Some examples of Andersson’s skillset can be seen in the video below.
On the first goal, Andersson is first to get to the puck and is able to shield it with his body with the defender draped all over him. Despite this, he bulls to the net to tuck it in on his forehand. On the second, he displays his quick release on the powerplay.
Where will Andersson fit in the lineup?
With the departure of Derek Stepan and Oscar Lindberg, the Rangers have a hole at center. The Rangers may elect to play him there or potentially slot him in at wing like J.T. Miller. Although Andersson may not play in the NHL this year, the Rangers can plug the gap in center next season.
He is not projected to possess the high-end skillset that lends itself to playing on the top line. However, the Rangers hope he will slot in nicely into their middle-six.
One of the positives of drafting Andersson is in his “NHL ready” size at 5’11” and 200 lbs. The Rangers have not had a first rounder jump immediately into the NHL since Dan Blackburn in 2001.
If Andersson is not playing for the Rangers next season, he will probably return to Frolunda in Sweden where he was recently traded. However, since he played in Sweden last year, he can play in the AHL for the Hartford Wolfpack.