Scouting The Pack: Lias Andersson
When Lias Andersson was sent down by the New York Rangers to Hartford back on November 17th, some saw this as inevitable given his limited ice time and being relegated to the fourth line for most of the early season. In 17 games with the Rangers, Andersson had only netted one assist and averaged 9:33 of ice time, and was also a -8 with 4 PIM. In 66 career NHL games, Andersson has totaled three goals and six assists.
It was decided by head coach David Quinn that, for now, it would be more beneficial for Andersson to be playing important minutes in Hartford rather than being stuck playing fourth-line center with the likes of Micheal Haley, Brendan Smith, and even Greg McKegg. This to go with Quinn showing little faith in rolling four lines to this point in the season.
Lias Andersson made his season debut with the Wolf Pack on November 20th in their annual 11 am school day game where he scored the only goal in a 3-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch. He also scored a sneaky goal in a rematch against Syracuse, the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning three days later on November 23rd, in a game the Pack also lost, this time by a 6-3 score.
Through five AHL games, Andersson has scored twice and are his only points to go along with eight PIMs, in addition to being a -4. That being said, Andersson has been on the doorstep for more goals and assists had it not be for broken or poorly executed plays. Many expected Lias Andersson to respond to his assignment to the Wolf Pack much the same as Filip Chytil did during his very brief stint in Hartford, where he averaged a point per game in nine games (3G, 6A).
One piece of criticism I hear a lot is that Lias Andersson is lazy at times. There have been times where he made a wrong decision with the puck, taken a bad penalty, or the execution has been slightly off, it certainly hasn’t been a wasted opportunity for Lias to rediscover his game. Having spent most of his current stint as the second-line center between veteran Matt Beleskey to his right and captain Steven Fogarty to his left, the opportunity for Lias Andersson to flourish is there. With a handful of games coming up against divisional opponents such as Springfield, Providence, and Lehigh Valley, he needs to take advantage of his time here and show Kris Knoblauch, Chris Drury, David Quinn, and John Davidson that he does belong in New York.
It’s been stated time and time again by David Quinn that he and the New York Rangers still believe in Lias Andersson and they still believe that he will be a very integral piece to their future. There are also a lot of fans that believe that Lias Andersson hasn’t been utilized properly. There are a lot of fans that think it’s time to move on from Lias Andersson because there won’t be a place for him in the lineup even when the time comes that he’s earned a call back to Broadway. If ever in need of inspiration that he can come back strong, he needs to look no further than Mika Zibanejad. The Rangers’ top center started out in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators, found his way to the Ottawa Senators only to be sent back down to the AHL for a short stint after a rough start to the 2013-14 season. Safe to say, Mika has made a good NHL career for himself after that, not to say Lias Andersson can’t do the same now.
Lias will eventually settle in and find his game while he’s with the Wolf Pack, though it remains to be seen how long it will take. The future still looks bright for Lias Andersson with the New York Rangers. One can only hope he realizes that he still has a chance and makes the best of the opportunities given to him.