8:33, 10:16, and 7:16. This is what Lias Andersson has played in the first three games of the season, exclusively as a 4th line center and a penalty killer. He has also not received a single second on the PP.
While it is still very early in the season, it seems pretty clear that David Quinn has chosen not to play Lias Andersson late during games. He admitted as much after the team’s first game against the Jets. Quinn said that during the 3rd period, Andersson got lost on the bench. The coach told the press that was on him and he’d pay closer attention to that going forward.
He did so in game two against Ottawa and Lias saw 3 more shifts (total 16) and over 10 minutes of ice time. Afterwards, Quinn noted that Andersson should continue to earn more ice time with the way he’s been playing. Then came the long layoff and Quinn pinned Andersson to the bench again in a contest the Rangers were down. Against Edmonton, Andersson saw a season low 7:16 of ice time. The reason? He wanted to ride his top guys since they hadn’t played in such a longtime.
That thinking was sound until today after practice when he told the gathered media that the team was lifeless in their last game. If that was the case, why not get the young and energetic 21 year old first rounder more ice time with better skilled players? It just seems logical for his development.
We need to see more Andersson
At some point, Andersson needs to get top 9 minutes, even if that has to be as a winger. Currently he is averaging just 8:42 per game and is almost exclusively starting in the defensive zone 78% of the time. His CF% is 44% which isn’t terrible when you consider who his line mates are and they generally face the team’s top lines.
It should be noted that he is struggling mightily in the face-off circle with just 4 wins on 14 tries. Still that’s not a lot of practice at it either. In contrast, Mika Zibanejad has taken over 60 face-offs already. And if you think maybe it’s other issues, Andersson has been credited with 4 takeaways and no giveaways to date.
Simply put, Lias Andersson is not in a good position to show what he can do in a limited role. Now, unless the Rangers wasted a 1st round pick, 7th overall for a future 4th line center none of this makes sense.
Quinn Needs To Be More Transparent
In truth, David Quinn does not need to say anymore than he has on Lias Andersson. However, the Rangers opened up Pandora’s Rebuild Box when they sent out “the letter”. Quinn’s job isn’t simply to win hockey games, he was hired to also develop young players. That was explicitly said by even team owner, James Dolan. So in that regard, we need more transparency with what is going on with Andersson.
Why is he not getting more ice time? Maybe he is doing things on the ice that are hard to see in the stands or on TV. It can’t be that there’s no room for him to get top 9 minutes, although after Namestnikov was traded, I still don’t understand the logic of inserting McKegg and now promoting Brendan Smith. Filip Chytil is playing well, and should be here developing with Kakko on his wing. That would keep better with the heart of “the letter” if you ask most fans.
The Rangers are just three games into this season, and many would say to relax. Those people wouldn’t be wrong, but the reality is that we are almost 2 years into “the letter” and that’s why so many people are asking the question, “What’s going on with Lias Andersson?”
I certainly would like to know. Wouldn’t you?