Lias Andersson and the Rangers had a doomed marriage from the start. As fans will remember, the Blueshirts shocked many around the hockey world when they selected Andersson seventh overall at the 2017 NHL Draft.
The consensus among draft analysts immediately following the pick was that the Rangers went off the board and reached. It was described as a character over talent selection. Leadership, tenacity and work ethic were described as Andersson’s best qualities. No one was raving about his skill set or physical gifts.
To date, Andersson has collected three goals and six assists in 66 career NHL games. Though his production has been underwhelming, it’s important to keep in mind that his NHL minutes have been sporadic and largely limited to the fourth line.
The situation reached a boiling point when Andersson formally requested a trade this past weekend. The team has suspended the 21-year-old center while general manager Jeff Gorton combs the market for an acceptable return. Any deal would take place after the holiday roster freeze is lifted on Dec. 27.
Again, it’s too early to say because both players are in the infancy of their respective careers. Howden has barely played over 100 career NHL games and Andersson has played less than a full season’s worth of games across parts of three seasons. Lately, Howden has benefitted from a switch to the wing. He scored the second goal of the Rangers’ 5-1 victory over the Ducks on Sunday.
Back to Andersson – whether he establishes a long NHL career or not, the Rangers and Quinn must learn from this debacle. The next young center that comes through the pipeline should not be placed in a no-win situation where their development is stuck on pause.