Rangers 1st-round flop leaving NHL at age 25

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

After seven unfulfilling and unsuccessful seasons in North America, Lias Andersson is packing his bags and will play in Switzerland. The former first-round draft pick by the New York Rangers never lived up to his hype and played just 110 games in the NHL.

The 25-year-old forward signed a two-year contract with EHC Biel-Bienne in the top professional league in Switzerland after spending the entire 2023-24 season in the American Hockey League, where he had 21 goals and 45 points in 53 games with Laval, the Montreal Canadiens affiliate.

“Lias Andersson is a flexible forward who will enrich our offensive game with his versatility and skill. He is able to play in various positions up front and adapt to the requirements of the game situations both offensively and defensively,” general manager Martin Steinegger said.

Andersson’s exit from North America ends a disappointing run that began with much hope and promise when the Rangers selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Among those drafted after him in the first round were forwards Casey Mittelstadt (No. 8, Buffalo Sabres), Martin Necas (No. 12, Carolina Hurricanes), Nick Suzuki (No. 13, Vegas Golden Knights) and Robert Thomas (No. 20, St. Louis Blues).

Though Andersson was a flop, the Rangers did select Filip Chytil with the No. 21 overall pick in 2017. Despite several injuries, and playing only 10 regular-season games this season due to an expected concussion, Chytil has played 337 games with the Rangers.

Related: NHL Insider explains why it’s easier for Rangers to trade Kaapo Kakko now

Lias Andersson was bust with Rangers

NHL: NHL Draft
David Banks-USA TODAY SportsCredit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers believed they were getting a mature, two-way center that could be a future captain one day. Instead, Andersson was immature, and not nearly as skilled as they hoped. He chafed at demotions to Hartford in the AHL, failed to make any impact in the NHL and eventually worked his way back to Sweden before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in October of 2021.

When as captain of Sweden he chucked his silver medal into the crowd at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship — where it should be noted he starred with six goals and seven points in seven games — Andersson was lauded as hate-to-lose leader. In retrospect, it might have been a sign of his immaturity.

Andersson wasn’t quite Hugh Jessiman. But he was among the worst first-round picks by the Rangers in recent memory.

He scored three goals and had nine points in 66 games over three seasons with the Blueshirts. He has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 110 NHL games with the Rangers and Kings.

Though he could always revive his career overseas and return to the NHL one day, it appears Andersson’s days in the NHL are now over, completing closing a chapter that the Rangers would be happy to forget.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: