With his assignment to the Hartford Wolf Pack, another chapter in Lias Andersson’s career with the New York Rangers has been written. Now, it’s up to him to turn his game around in the AHL. David Quinn addressed Andersson’s future.
Much of the coach’s post-practice remarks Monday were devoted to the subject of Lias Andersson. Quinn explained his reasons why the New York Rangers sent him to Hartford and speculated on his future with the team. In many ways it was what we have heard before.
When listening to Quinn, it’s not hard to believe that Andersson is so far out of favor with the coach, that there is little he can do to earn a return trip to the Garden.
When asked about the assignment, Quinn’s answer was predictable. “We want Lias to get more playing time, touch more pucks. It did wonders for Fil (Filip Chytil), we’re hoping it will do wonders for Lias as well. ”
That’s clearly the reason that a stint in the AHL will benefit Andersson. Averaging nine and a half minutes a game on the fourth line, touching pucks was clearly an issue. The big difference with Chytil was that the Czech center was given the second line pivot slot at the beginning of training camp and failed to keep it, while Andersson was afforded no such consideration.
When pressed on why Andersson didn’t succeed, Quinn elaborated and provided the same reasons he has in the past.
“There’s gotta be consistency to his game…one of the things that he’s got to continue to work on is playing faster, I know that that’s a simple answer but a lot of time it is THE answer for young players. When they ask you what do I need to do, you’ve got to play fast, you’ve got to be a little bit quicker, play from one play to the next. It’s not just skating fast, it’s playing fast and I think the more you play, the better chance you have to do that, I certainly understand that, but from a playing standpoint, he’s got to play a little bit faster. I thought there were time he did that, and that’s when he was effective, and I thought there were times where he wasn’t playing quite fast enough…and he’s done an awful lot of good things, in the last year plus, and again, it’s a 21-year old playing in the American Hockey League to gain some confidence, play a little bit more, touch the puck more, to put him in a better position to have success.”
The concept of “playing faster” has been one that he has harped on when speaking specifically about Andersson. Clearly it means giving a better effort and in the coach’s eyes, the effort wasn’t there on a consistent basis.
The oddity is that this is the exact opposite of what the Rangers thought they were getting when they drafted him seventh overall in 2017. Remember what Gordie Clark, the Director of Player Personnel, said about Andersson at the time?
“He’s a helluva player. We’ve really needed a certain kind of player to add into our organization. This guy, his work ethic and his ability, you’re gonna love him, the fans will love him. He’s got the combination of the grit and ability we’ve been looking for. He’s not a dynamic scorer, he’s a dynamic player in the way that he plays, he is just so driven, driving the net, forechecking. finishing checks, and he can make a pass, make a play.”
That doesn’t sound like the player that doesn’t play fast or consistently. Was the Rangers’ scouting assessment so far off?
Here’s the Elite Prospects.com evaluation in 2017: “Andersson is an excellent team player. Never takes a shift off. Also blessed with good hockey sense and plays a strong two-way game. Offensively, Andersson stands out with impressive puck skills, a good shot and fine speed. Has the tools to become a scoring line player, but could also become an excellent role player who always gives 100%.”
Again, a player who was repeatedly cited for his leadership, his effort and his ability to win one on one battles has been labelled the opposite in his time in New York.