The New York Rangers announced they have loaned suspended forward Lias Andersson to HV71 of the SHL. While the team had been looking for a potential trade partner for their disgruntled forward since he walked out on his AHL team on Dec. 21, the team has decided that allowing him to play overseas for now is the best case for his continued development and could drum up some interest before the trade deadline.
Despite being drafted seventh-overall back in 2017, Andersson hasn’t lived up to his billing, having scored just six points in 42 games with the Rangers in 2018-19 and got even less playing time this year. In 17 games with New York, Andersson played mostly on the fourth line, averaging just 9:33 per night, and tallied just one assist in that time. He was eventually assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack where he scored four goals and five points in 13 games, but was also seeing a decline in his playing time, which wasn’t going to help him return to the Rangers squad. Unhappy with his playing time and frustrated that he still wasn’t with the Rangers, Andersson choose to walk away from the team and demanded a trade, where the team responded by suspending him. He returned to his home country of Sweden not long after that.
Since then, Andersson has been in direct contact with Rangers team president John Davidson for the past few weeks and was rumored to be working out with a low-level team in Sweden. The 21-year-old should be quite familiar with HV71 as he played with the team for two years before he was drafted, scoring nine goals and 19 points as a 17-year-old in 2016-17.
With little trade value at the moment, the Rangers have to hope that Andersson can continue his development in the SHL and improve that value, although it would seem unlikely that all that can happen before the trade deadline. Being a seventh-overall pick, New York would expect a solid return for a 21-year-old player and aren’t likely to give the youngster away for less than that. If Andersson can become one of the team’s top players and put up some numbers over there, he could improve his stock and either opt to return to the team or give the team a better chance to trade him.