Lias Andersson announced he’ll play for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League for the 2020-21 season. If he ever plays in the NHL again, it likely won’t be for the New York Rangers.
The drama never seems to end when it comes to Lias Andersson. However, his tenure with the New York Rangers likely has, as the young Swedish forward announced on HV71’s Twitter page that he’ll remain with the Swedish Hockey League’s club for the 2020-21 season.
“I would like to thank Rangers for understanding my situation and my desire to play in HV71,” Andersson said in an HV71 press release. “I found my way back to the game I want to play at the end of last season and look forward to continue with HV71. During my years in HV71 and Jönköping, I have acquired many good memories and positive feelings that I will build on when we reunite at the end of July.”
Lias Andersson stannar i HV71. ”Jag är väldigt tacksam över att det gick att lösa en fortsättning med HV71, som jag trivs oerhört bra i”, säger Lias Andersson. #HV71 https://t.co/UuebrItJ0X pic.twitter.com/5c4UXw97lw
— HV71 (@HV71) July 24, 2020
Andersson’s announcement isn’t necessarily shocking considering his tumultuous tenure with the Rangers since they took him at seventh overall in the 2017 Entry Draft. By remaining in Sweden and playing for HV71 next season (the last of his entry-level deal with New York) he’s essentially screwed the Rangers from getting much value back for him in a trade.
New York holds the 21-year-old’s NHL rights through 2020-21 but probably would have at least listened to trade offers.
And why not? If the Rangers can’t trade him, he’ll count against the 50-contract limit.
Plus, Andersson abandoned the organization last season returned to Sweden and demanded a trade shortly after being sent down to AHL Hartford. His demotion followed 17 games on Broadway in which he posted one assist, a plus/minus rating of -8, a Corsi For percentage of 35.9, and averaged 9:33 of ice per game.
To their credit, the Rangers extended an olive branch to the 5-foot-11, 198-pound pivot with an invitation to re-join the team for training camp ahead of the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round with a chance to make the roster, but Andersson declined.
Now, it’s highly unlikely general manager Jeff Gorton will find a team willing to trade for Andersson knowing full well that he may not return to North America. Unless Gorton practically gives away Andersson, it’s hard to see another team taking such a risk.
The exception might be the Edmonton Oilers.
Last March the Oilers considered Andersson in a possible a deal in exchange for their own disgruntled Finnish forward, 22-year-old Jesse Puljujarvi. Taken fourth overall in the 2016 Entry Draft, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Puljujarvi has 37 points, 33 PIMs, and a minus-10 rating in 139 NHL games.
Reportedly, after disputes between his agent and the Oilers over his development, Puljujarvi left North America. Last season, he played for Karpat in Finland‘s top league, Liiga, and had 53 points in 56 games. He’s due to become a restricted free agent after the upcoming playoffs are completed.
It wasn’t all bad
Andersson’s play in the Rangers’ organization started well enough.
In 2017-18, he had 14 points in 25 games for AHL Hartford and notched two points in seven games in his cup of coffee with the Blueshirts. At the Under-20 World Junior Championships, he had six goals, an assist and a plus-5 rating seven matches for Sweden.
In 2018-19, he split time between New York and Hartford. He recorded six points, a minus-13 rating and 29 PIMs in 42 games with the Rangers, and 20 points, a minus-24 mark, and 25 PIMs in 36 contests for the Wolf Pack.
2019-20 was “tripped up” from the start
When Andersson tripped on a wire during player introductions before the Rangers’ season-opener on Oct. 4 at Madison Square Garden, it appeared to be a harmless (even funny) accident. To borrow from the late Red Fisher, who covered the Montreal Canadiens and NHL for nearly 70 years, “Nobody died.”
Looking back, the gaff proved a harbinger of things ahead for Andersson and the Rangers. Now, it appears the player and team are prepared to say adjö.