Rangers Forward Is NOT A Bust

Corey Sipkin

Taken number seven overall the New York Rangers selected Lias Andersson in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Taking him over Casey Mittlestadt, Cal Foote, Erik Brannstrom and many other touted prospects drove fans to madness.

It’s impossible to truly know how this will play out. Before we dive into this debate, there is always an opportunity for the Jeff Gorton and company to have ‘missed’ with their pick. Having said that, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Lias Andersson is NOT a bust. 

Mark Scheifele, a top-five center in the NHL, was selected seventh-overall by the Jets in 2011. He did not crack Winnipeg’s roster in 2011-12. He did not crack the roster in 2012-13. That did not mean he was a failure or that the selection was a failed pick. So it is asinine to rush to judgment on Andersson. If he becomes an NHL staple in a month, three months or another year (or even two), no one will care about this particular assignment to the AHL. – Larry Brooks

From Necessity to Luxury

At the time of the 2017 draft, the Rangers were very shallow at center. There was no true sign of Kevin Hayes becoming a number two center, nor was there a sign of Mika Zibanejad being the team’s clear-cut number one center. The team lost Oscar Lindberg to Vegas and had to trade Derek Stepan for cap reasons. Boo Nieves is a fringe NHL player and, at the time, they were going to rely on him to play everyday.

Going into the draft, the need was for a center which led to a choice between Mittelstadt and Andersson. The team obviously chose the latter. Mittelstadt has shown great skill and has 14 points (5G, 9A) in 36 games, while Andersson has five points (2G, 3A) in 22 games. To this point in their careers, the Sabres are getting more from Mittelstadt than the Rangers are getting from Andersson. 

What is a Bust?

A bust is a player that provides no use to the team that selected them. Patrik Stefan, Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf are examples of busts. A bust is not a player that is selected at a spot and doesn’t become the greatest player in the draft. A safe projection for Lias Andersson is a middle six forward, and it’s near impossible to argue this. 

Let’s fast forward a decade from now; if Lias Andersson ends up being a reliable two way forward, then the Rangers had a massive success with this draft pick. The notion that Lias has to be better than those taken after him is incorrect; you take the player that will help you the most. And in the opinion of Rangers management, it is Lias Andersson. 

Time Will Tell

Like fine wine, prospects typically get better with age. It would behoove the Rangers and the fan base to allow Lias to grow and age. The argument should not be that Lias Andersson is a bust. To simply put it, Andersson has a very bright future ahead of himself. There may be players taken after him that have a better stat line, however, for the Rangers, he was the best player available and that’s the key.