Lias Andersson has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings at his qualifying offer value of $874,125K in the NHL. The young forward was a restricted free agent coming off his first season with the Kings organization.
Andersson, 22, was the seventh overall pick in 2017, a selection the New York Rangers received when they traded Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes. Even at the time, the pick raised some eyebrows because scouts saw a relatively low ceiling on Andersson, but the young forward was expected to quickly compete for an NHL job thanks to his experience at the professional level in Sweden. In that first season with the Rangers, he ended up playing in seven games and suited up 42 in 2018-19.
Things quickly soured though as Andersson struggled in the NHL, and he returned to Sweden for part of the 2019-20 season. In October last year, with his future basically over with the Rangers, he was sent to the Kings for a second-round pick. Not exactly the return you want from a seventh-overall selection, but at least something for the Rangers to work with.
Motivated and getting a fresh start, Andersson split the 2020-21 season between Sweden, the AHL and the NHL, recording six points in 23 games for the Kings. His performance in the minor leagues was much better, and it looks as though he could have a role in the NHL this year. No longer waiver-exempt, his best chance at showing he can be an NHL player was to accept his qualifying offer and be a cheap, effective option for Los Angeles. Whether he’ll ever experience an offensive breakout at this level is unclear, but for now, he’ll get a chance to show he can be a regular contributor.