Lias Andersson’s career with the New York Rangers has been a long and winding road, so far. EWB’s Steve Sanin best sums it up, however, with a Talking Heads soundtrack.
Many days have gone by since the beginning of Lias Andersson‘s long and strange journey with the New York Rangers. The 2017 seventh overall pick has turned out to be quite a mystery machine for the organization. As rumors begin to circulate once again regarding his future, you may find yourself asking, “How did we get here?” Let’s start at the beginning.
"“And you may ask yourself, “Where does that highway go to? And you may ask yourself, Am I right? Am I wrong? And you may say yourself, MY GOD! WHAT HAVE I DONE?” – David Byrne, Talking Heads, from Once in a Lifetime."
The Trade: Once In a Lifetime
On the floor of the 2017 NHL Draft, New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton traded away the team’s top center, Derek Stepan, and backup goalie Antti Raanta. In return, the Rangers received the number seven overall pick and defenseman Tony DeAngelo. The selection was the team’s first, first-round pick since 2012 (Brady Skjei).
Sending off Stepan was a tough pill for the franchise to swallow, in a move Gorton referred to as a “rebuild on the fly.” Stepan was one of the team’s most productive and versatile players. He was also a part of the team’s leadership group, wearing an “A” on his sweater for several of his seasons on Broadway. Whatever became of this pick was bound to be attached to the discussion of trading away such a crucial player.
Enter stage left, selected with the seventh overall pick, acquired from in the Arizona trade, Swedish center Lias Andersson. Many draft experts believed he had a “Swiss Army Knife” skill-set. Andersson was considered a solid three-zone player, with good hockey sense, and put 100% into every shift.
They also liked his makeup as a potential leader in the locker room. Scouts raved about Andersson’s defensive responsibility and decision-making ability in all situations. There was no way to make the case that Andersson would be the one to fill Stepan’s role on the team, due to his age and experience. The consensus on Andersson was he possessed all the tools of a hardworking defensive role player, with some scoring upside.