The New York Rangers have inked their newest prize, seventh-overall pick Lias Andersson, to a three-year entry-level contract. The Rangers drafted Andersson with the selection acquired in the Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta trade with the Arizona Coyotes. That was the Rangers’ first first-round pick in many years, and they’re very excited to get him into their system as soon as possible.
In fact, Alain Vigneault told Larry Brooks of the New York Post just a few days ago that Andersson was impressing him and would get “every opportunity” to make the club right away. While that still seems like a long shot, Andersson did play all of last season in the Swedish Hockey League against professionals, and held his own. With 19 points in 42 games, he helped HV71 to an SHL championship and put up the second highest +/- (+21) among forwards on the team. Whatever you think of that statistic, it backs up what is plain to see when watching Andersson; he’ll be an effective two-way player at any level.
Though he wasn’t the most dynamic offensive talent in the draft, he may be one of the surest bets to make an impact at the NHL level. At 6’0″ 200-lbs he’s not physically imposing, but can already hold his own against grown men and is willing to go to all areas of the ice to retrieve pucks and pressure defenders. A natural center, he will hopefully be able to fill that role for the Rangers down the road. After trading Stepan, they’re much weaker down the middle and will be relying on Mika Zibanejad to log big minutes for them in all situations.