With nine games left for the New York Rangers, this is yet another opportunity for Lias Andersson to prove that he was worthy of selection as the seventh overall draft pick in 2017.
Lias Andersson generates a lot of discussion among New York Rangers fans. On Blue Line Station, we are averaging one Lias Andersson story a month. The speculation now is about what he can do in the last two weeks of the season, playing regularly.
At the 2017 draft the Rangers admitted that he was selected for his leadership and grit and they didn’t expect him to be a goal scoring machine. But for a team that hasn’t drafted an offensively gifted player since Chris Kreider in 2009, anything less would be a disappointment to the fans.
Andersson’s numbers aren’t pretty. This season he has one goal and four assists in 33 games. That means he has two goals and five assists in 40 games over two seasons. He does play a physical game. He has 53 hits in 33 games this season, a ratio that is better than most of his teammates.
Those offensive stats are not indicative of his ability. While he has never been a big scorer, he has been able to accumulate points. Playing top line minutes in the AHL, Andersson has 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 61 games. That’s about right. Through out his career whether it be with in the SHL in Sweden or the AHL, he has consistently been that kind of scorer.
He has also shown that he can rise to the occasion. In his two trips to the WJC, he has nine goals in 14 games.
David Quinn’s drive to win has led to him relying on his best players too much and keeping some players stapled to the bench. In 33 games this season Andersson has hit the 15 minute mark in ice time only three times. In 16 games he has played single digit minutes. For all of the talk about Quinn’s ability to develop young players, he hasn’t done Andersson any favors.
Think about it. You are a 20-old kid with all of the pressure of being a top draft pick and you are playing eight or nine minutes a game. Your linemates are a constant shuffle. You know if you make a mistake it will mean less ice time. It’s no mystery that he hasn’t done well.
In looking at the numbers, it is even more clear that compared with his peers in the 2017 draft, he has not been given the same opportunity to succeed.