New York Rangers: The pro career of Lias Andersson – Puzzlin’ Evidence

Lias Andersson, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lias Andersson, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New York Rangers
Ryan Sproul, Lias Andersson, New York Rangers. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Rookie Season: Road to Nowhere

To say that this was not the season Andersson had hoped for, would be a massive understatement. The handwriting was on the wall during player introductions at the season opener when Andersson tripped over a camera wire while skating to center ice. In 2018-19 he played 42 games with the Rangers and did very little to impress. The center posted a minuscule six points (2G-4A).

For context, he spent most of his time on the bottom line, playing minimal minutes each night. On top of that, he wasn’t put in a position to succeed. Andersson played most often with linemates like Cody McLeod and Vinni Lettieri, flanking him. Not exactly a cast of goal scorers. However, even when given a few opportunities on higher-quality lines, he failed to produce.

His mild success in 36 games with Hartford was not much of a confidence booster, either. Andersson produced a little better against AHL talent, putting up 20 points (6G-14A). By this point, it was becoming a little more clear that his confidence was eroding under the weight of heavy expectations.

To be fair, he was not the only one on the team that was struggling to jump-start his young career. Fellow rookie center Brett Howden was going through some very similar growing pains alongside Andersson. Howden ended the season with a modest total of 23 points (6G,17A) in 66 games.

Unlike his Swedish counterpart, though, Howden received several opportunities for expanded ice time. He was featured on the second power-play and penalty kill units and even saw top-six minutes at times throughout the season.

Rangers coach David Quinn deployed the two centers much differently despite the pair’s similar struggles adjusting to the NHL. Neither could produce consistently. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Andersson to see this and wonder why he didn’t deserve the same chances to prove himself as the next guy on the roster.