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Scouching: What Actually Happened to… Lias Andersson

Scouching -- 17 (Projection: Middle six forward) | McKeens - 17
ISS - 25 | Future Considerations - 13 | TSN - 13 | NHL CSS 3EU

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 29: New York Rangers center Lias Andersson (50) follows the play during third period National Hockey League action between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on November 29, 2018, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire)
OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 29: New York Rangers center Lias Andersson (50) follows the play during third period National Hockey League action between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on November 29, 2018,(Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire)

In my five seasons of analysing the NHL draft, one thing that grinds my gears is how flippantly we throw around the term “bust” or “steal”. If a player has a poor D+1 season, some rush to call the player a bust and if a player has a great D+1 season, some rush to call the player a steal. When those players are picked way up at the top of the draft, the discussion gets even less nuanced. What is lost in this process is exactly what we mean by “bust” and exactly why a prospect may fail to reach the expectations laid at their feet on draft day. So, when McKeen’s approached me about writing a recurring column, I thought it would be interesting to actually dig in and examine exactly what is going right, or going wrong for players who are under or overperforming their draft positions. As always, I recommend reading the primer on the work I do hosted on McKeens if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, but I’ll throw in some video to help explain what I found as well!

The 2017 NHL Draft feels like yesterday to me, with the Hischier vs. Patrick debate, everyone undervaluing Elias Petterson, and the rise of Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen. One of the bigger shocks to me was the selection of Lias Andersson by the New York Rangers at 7th overall. Andersson was my 17th rated player in 2017, and in my mock draft linked here, I sent Andersson to the Calgary Flames as a potential middle six, two-way centre that could chip in as a good role player on a good team, but the Rangers clearly saw something more. In the time since, the Rangers surprisingly waited less than a season to pull him over from Sweden to try his luck in the NHL, and what is clear with the benefit of hindsight is that this may have been a bit of a miscalculation. Andersson has since bounced up and down from the NHL to AHL with underwhelming results leading to frustrations and multiple loans back to Sweden in recent years, and most recently, a trade to the LA Kings for a late 2nd round pick. So, the obvious question I had was what actually happened here? In terms of real, on-ice results from before the draft through to this winter, what has changed in his game, and is there anything left in the tank for the Kings to extract? To find out, I tracked seven games and watched a further three ranging from Lias’ draft year through to November 2020. The data tracked is identical to how I have been tracking 2021 prospects, and while the sample size is limited, the trends observed year over year in Lias’ case were apparent. The games tracked were:

1. Apr 29, 2017 vs. Brynäs IF
2. Nov 14, 2017 vs. Djurgårdens IF
3. Dec 16, 2018 vs. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Mar 27, 2019 at Boston Bruins
5. Oct 29, 2019 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
6. Mar 7, 2020 at Frölunda HC
7. Nov 24, 2020 vs. Luleå

Right from the start, I looked at one of the last games Andersson played before he was drafted; an SHL playoff game. The first thing I noted out of Andersson was a very clear lack of pace to his game. There was a lack of footspeed and a tendency to be a step behind the puck, especially tracking play along the boards over and over again. It was very clear that Andersson was a player with good anticipation skills, was supportive of teammates along the boards, and read play well as it went on around him. I believe many would call that “hockey sense”. This tendency away from the puck translated somewhat to his play with the puck as he showed patience to see if a play formed in front of him, but he showed on numerous occasions an issue that would plague Andersson through his time with the Rangers: a lack of passing vision. Andersson could read a singular option relatively quickly, but if that option closed itself off, he seemed unable to use shoulder checks, agility, or puck skill to open up the ice and get the puck to a secondary or tertiary option. Building off this, it was clear that Andersson showed good offensive rush instincts, able to make the odd pass off the boards into dangerous areas, which was a trend that appeared a few times over my sample.

That being said, this all adds up to a significant issue when it comes to projecting prospects, especially at the top end of the draft: pace of play. In this game, I wouldn’t have called Lias Andersson a “slow” skater, but he certainly wasn’t keeping SHL opponents on their heels, nor was he showcasing any kind of high-end skill that led me to believe this player was destined for offensive greatness in the NHL. The ice shrinks, the players get more physical, and the speed of the game gets faster when you come to North America. A top ten NHL pick being not-fast, not-skilled, with little offensive threat output against men and a bit of a hesitation to get involved physically are, in my opinion, signs of a player who shouldn’t be in the Top-10, isn’t ready for North American hockey, and one who certainly needs more time to develop the fundamental skills necessary to push the pace of the game and drive offense, regardless of their level of intelligence on the ice. After tracking this game where Andersson had zero dangerous shot attempts, a dangerous pass attempt leading to an assist, and reasonable controlled transition percentages. He had the sense of responsibility at both ends that many teams are looking for, but in terms of projectable fundamental skills for a top NHL pick, there was very clearly work to be done.

Game 1 Takeaway: While there were signs of a decent pro level SHL player who is capable of making plays on big ice with the space and time to make decisions; pushing pace, engaging physically, and consistent offensive generation were not on display yet. In all honesty, there was no indication that he was ready for the NHL, or even the AHL and I’m not sure how you could possibly have made that argument. Unfortunately, the Rangers seemed to only feel the same for the remainder of 2017, but before we get to Andersson’s NHL experience, Game 2 took place after the Rangers loaned him to Frölunda HC, a premier program in Sweden to develop further.

A sample of the pace of play issues shown pre-draft. A lack of speed, skill, and willingness to drive deep into the offensive zone are prime characteristics of a player requiring further development.”

Game 2 was an improvement in the area of playmaking with two dangerous pass attempts and completing both. There were still signs of being a step behind when it comes to physical intensity on big ice, and a hesitancy to get to the net away from the puck in the offensive zone. Nothing drives coaches crazier than forwards driving along the boards, stopping up before the half-wall and lobbing a puck at the goalie, or worse, into the hands of an opposing defenseman. Considering Andersson’s issues with speed, pace, and skill with the puck, you can see how these things could combine to create issues with respect to his offensive potential. That being said, there were still signs of playmaking on the rush, but also significant tunnel vision, unable to see passing options besides what’s in front of him. An inability to read the ice as a centre, analyze multiple options and protect the puck consistently can be a significant issue, and with Andersson completing just 6 of 11 non-dangerous pass attempts, and only completing 50% of his 8 offensive transitions with control are indicators of those issues. On the plus side, Andersson did score a goal through a combination of poor offensive pressure application, but solid anticipation, no-nonsense puck movement, and just finding open ice. On the downside, there wasn’t much of a push to the net by Andersson, something NHL coaches are constantly looking for. It was also his only dangerous shot attempt across both games tracked to this point. Being a catch and release shooter is fine, but an inability to move your feet, change shooting angles, and open up the ice is unlikely to challenge many NHL goaltenders. Again, we have to look at Andersson through the lens of being a 7th overall selection. You should be landing a player competent enough mentally to think the game at a high level, but you really want to be using your lottery picks on players who will be core pieces, and in my view, if your core pieces aren’t driving offense, then they aren’t core pieces. Another common issue I noted in Game 1 that was still abundantly clear were signs of below average to a poor first puck touch, as well as lingering signs of being just a step or two behind clogging passing/shooting lanes. He still simply did not look like a player who was ready to step in and quarterback an NHL line, let alone contribute offensively at 5v5.

Game 2 Takeaway: While there were signs of improvement in terms of playmaking, defensive anticipation across bluelines, quick decisions, and finding open ice, his pass percentage and DSAT% significantly declined in a higher workload. Andersson remained a player I would not think was ready for the kind of role a top 10 NHL pick should be taking on without significant increases to power/speed generation, puck control, passing vision, reading play, and positioning away from the puck in the OZ.

“A few examples of Andersson struggling to see men open in the corner in clip 1, and cycling a puck back to open defenders to restart a rush. His lack of analyzing multiple options remains an issue.”

“Multiple examples of a lack of speed and intensity away from the puck giving opponents far too much space to keep Andersson at bay. A step behind in the NHL is often a step too many.”

So now we fast forward to Game 3 almost a year later against the notoriously tricky Vegas Golden Knights. If I know anything about the New York Rangers and David Quinn, it is that they want physical, high intensity hockey, and in this game, Andersson threw a large hit almost immediately, which I didn’t see once in the SHL games I tracked and watched. Andersson soon followed that up by clearly chasing contact on Will Carrier, who simply made a quick turn sending Lias into the boards alone. In reality, you’d expect a Top 10 NHL pick to use skill and edgework to evade a bottom line player like Carrier, but the funny thing about Will Carrier is that he’s a big guy who has always had an underpinning of skill going back to his QMJHL days. It’s almost as though players who play a successful heavy, physical game should probably still be very successful in junior hockey… Anyways, back to the topic at hand. All of the issues we’ve gone over with Andersson go under the magnifying glass here. Being an NHL centre is a lot of responsibility considering the decreased size of the rink, the increased pace of play, and the fact that the players are largely the best the world has to offer. While Andersson maintained control on 4 of 7 offensive transitions, when he didn’t, he was simply handing the puck over to Vegas. A lack of pace, puck control, and skill can do that. Over and over, the issues regarding tunnel vision, making quick reads, and executing on those reads lead Andersson to be far too much of a non-factor, even if his positioning and anticipation were on display. At one point, he was outskated by Ryan Carpenter to a loose puck. One thing I feel Andersson learned the hard way many times is that a moment of hesitation with low control of the puck can cause a turnover in the NHL. Everything happens quickly, and you need to move and think quickly to stay on top of the game.

Looking past the issues outlined above, there were signs of hope without the puck. Andersson showed much more of a tendency to get to the net and battle for space, which could be an indicator of potential offense at any level of hockey. There were clear increases in strength and resiliency, but still his tunnel vision remains. There is still a failure to shoulder check too often, he doesn’t see other options around him, and as such, Andersson still showed issues quarterbacking play up the middle of the ice. In this game, his line got absolutely caved in with a 14.3% DSAT% as well. While some of that comes down to the Rangers just… not being great, and while Andersson was often deployed with names like Boo Nieves, Neil Pionk, Fred Claesson, and noted 5v5 defensive legend Tony DeAngelo, it’s hard to look past the turnovers, missed pass receptions and lack of offensive results that were directly a result of Andersson’s puck touches.

Game 3 Takeaway: There were signs of both improvement and shortcomings in terms of translating offensive transition and offensive creation ability. The pace of play, reading the ice, and skill level were all far from what’s expected of a top end pick in my view, and there are clear reasons for frustration based on the instability of his career path thus far without enough improvement in these areas.

“This is new. Andersson starts playing heavier hockey and ends up burned for it in clip 2. Almost a night and day change from SHL play, but also didn’t occur much in future seasons.”

Moving forward to the end of the 2018-19, Game 4 was played against the Boston Bruins, another heavy, smart, tactical team with one of the best lines in hockey leading the way. If you were looking for significant signs of improvement with more NHL experience, unfortunately I didn’t see a whole lot that gave me hope. The puck control issues are still evident. Andersson was not showing the capability of being a reliable offensive transition conduit, be it through passing or carrying across bluelines. Settling pucks, making quick decisions and executing on them were all issues holding him back from success with the puck. There were improvements in terms of positioning and it seemed as though Andersson was turning out to be more of a player who does better away from the puck playing a meat and potatoes game, getting to the net in the offensive zone and playing the style that NHL coaches are looking for out of auxiliary players. Andersson always had the right positional instincts down the middle of the ice, pickup up men in the defensive zone, finding open space in the neutral zone to receive breakout passes, and getting to the net in the offensive zone, but it seems that these instincts were becoming almost the sole focus of his approach to the NHL game. The same issues with tunnel vision were still a problem. Part of this might also be a coaching issue, as I don’t recall seeing him being so willing to dump pucks in the SHL, but he’s always had issues viewing pass options that aren’t directly in front of him, or a primary option. His pass percentage plummeted to 45.5% across both 18-19 NHL games I tracked with just 1 dangerous pass attempt, and an offensive threat well under 10. All of these trends for a Top 10 pick in the NHL at 20 years of age, in my view, are not good enough, and for the team to continue to put Andersson in a position to be playing catchup for the second year in a row is at this point baffling to me. Andersson at 5v5 in the SHL showed very little ability to drive creative offense through playmaking or shooting, especially under pressure, and this trend has clearly carried over to the NHL.

Game 4 Takeaway: The issues from early in the year are still prevalent, but there were signs of what might make him a useful NHL player. There were improvements in his strength, but as a focal point of an NHL offense, there is still little to no evidence that he was destined for that role, nor will he likely discover that level of upside at this point. It’s absolutely no wonder there were issues percolating under the surface around this point.

“A long selection of instances where Andersson has trouble processing play on the fly, quarterbacking a rush, and controlling pucks in transition. Again, speed, skill, and aggression would all help here.”

Game 5 took place in October 2019, and to put it simply, even though Andersson played under 7 5v5 minutes, they were the most effective minutes I tracked to this point. He wasn’t flashy, scored no points, and wasn’t moving the needle much, but he was just chipping in effectively all over the ice, settling into a role that seemed much more up his alley looking back to his draft year games that I tracked and watched. There was a significant increase in off-puck play, with no-bullcrap positioning up the middle, passes on breakouts and in the offensive zone, and he was rewarded with significant increases in high danger shot attempts following shot attempts from defensemen. There was still no indication of creativity or vision offensively, including a strangely similar looking low danger shot attempt as what he showed in his draft year from the left wing boards. There is hope that Andersson shows the physical capability of potentially being an NHL winger through his physical play along the boards and ability to at least try to get pucks in front of the net from there. With this strength and work rate, it logically follows that you could try to get Andersson to flex those hips and knees to drive to the net with the puck more often, even if his raw speed isn’t quite on the same level as the best in the NHL. While there are question marks regarding pure offensive output at the NHL level, there were definite improvements in his coordination and puck control. At this point, Andersson is only 21, an age where many players are just getting a foothold in the NHL, so in my view, there are signs of promise here. It seemed like Andersson was finally doing a job in which he could be effective, which I imagine the Rangers have been trying to coach into him for years. No nonsense, relying on positioning, strength, and simple passing work to facilitate play and bang in a greasy goal here and there. Is that what you should expect out of a 7th overall selection in any NHL Draft? I’d argue no, but it’s better than a 7th overall pick who can’t find a job of any kind in the NHL. All this being said, the Rangers were still not great, and I’m not sure how you think you can rejuvenate a frustrated young player’s career by playing him with Micheal Haley and Brendan Smith, even if his results were more positive. More baffling thinking after years of questionable decisions, in my opinion.

Game 5 Takeaway: There were clear indications that simplifying his game could help find a standard role in the NHL. Simple passes, more of an auxiliary role both with and without the puck, decent playmaking instincts, and getting to the net. The evidence that he was going to discover some long lost offensive potential at the NHL level is still just not there, like it never has been.

“We’re beginning to see consistent signs of hope. One area is playmaking off the boards. Andersson has found simplicity as a puck distributor to move pucks into the middle, indicating potential winger value.”

Funnily enough, after such a clear shift in the right analytical direction, the Rangers sent Andersson back to the SHL to play for his draft year team HV71. Even after finding a role in which to be an NHL player with some level of value in a tactical system, Andersson was churned through linemates who are far from the brand of player I would pair with a player like Andersson. Micheal Haley, Brendan Lemieux, and Greg McKegg are still not names I would be pasting to a frustrated 21 year old, and it is pretty clear to see how the relationship had just eroded to nothing. Being sent back to Europe for playing time and development is an idea that’s always piqued my interest, and with Andersson, there were clear differences in his game from the last time I tracked him in the SHL. For starters, I tracked him from blueline to blueline in 1.65 seconds. This was significantly faster than the rare transition I tracked of his in prior years, especially in the NHL. The bigger ice was a clear benefit for Andersson to work on building some offensive ability. He was notably more aggressive with and without the puck, especially relative to his SHL competition, attacked the net once with the puck driving into the middle from the boards, showed a consistent effort battling along the boards, and chasing physical play in open ice. At this point, it’s quite clear that pace of decisions with the puck are likely never going to improve to the point of making him a premier NHL talent. While there were improvements in his vision, speed, and aggressiveness, when going back to bigger ice and SHL competition, Andersson has advantages of softer defending and extra time to think. On the downside, these are all changes that would help any hockey player heading over to most European leagues.

Game 6 Takeaway: While some higher end talents were on display with Andersson back in the SHL, there’s still the big question mark of whether he’ll ever find a role in the NHL that suits him. I do believe that there were signs of what he could be with a fresh start. There was an added sense of speed, a much more capable offensive transition player, and he was strong enough on his feet to chip in defensively as well as get to the net with and without the puck.

“This series indicates how Andersson’s sense of positioning has improved over the years. In the early SHL days, he avoids the front of the net, even if teammates are putting pucks on net. As time goes by, there is more of a push to get to the net with and without the puck, as well as covering the middle in the defensive end. Little things that add up to driving more dangerous chances.”

During the 2020 NHL Draft, the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft was traded for 60th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. That is not a sentence I expected to write back in 2017. It was well known that Andersson had had enough, and the Rangers finally relented, shipping him to the Los Angeles Kings. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, Andersson went back to HV71 to await his chance to make a young, rebuilding Kings roster. The final game I tracked occurred in late November 2020, and this is going to be relatively quick. This was another really solid game for Andersson, taking lots of the positives from Game 6, as well as many of the same issues. At this point, it feels like what you’re seeing with Andersson in the SHL recently is what the LA Kings are going to get. On paper, there were some rewards from the improvements brought to his game. It was his best in terms of OffThreat generation, and one where he seems much more of a controller of the flow of play than a follower. 62 completed pass attempts/60 is more than his attempted passes/60 in all but one previously tracked game. 14.5 dangerous pass attempts/60 is also top in the sample. Andersson showed a clear sense of comfort in his game, not trying to force plays that weren’t there, with less hesitation with the puck and far more control to navigate through simple coverage and maintain possession. There isn’t much else to say. I’m not sure how much of these simplifications and indications of comfort stem from being given a fresh start with the Kings, but Andersson was settling into his game at the SHL level and looking more and more like he knew what he was doing in areas where he previously looked overwhelmed.

Game 7 Takeaway: With the improvements to his strength, skill, and thinking in transition, the signs were all there for Andersson to at least try to make an NHL roster. The work rate was consistent, the positioning was always there, the speed and skill were improving in ways that seemed much more projectable, and the thinking on the fly seemed to simplify in a way that was projectable as well. “Just go out there and do good things” seems to be the goal, and for Andersson, he may be comfortable enough to make that work.

“Another area of promise for Andersson in the area of just keeping his game simple. The issues surrounding puck control and pace with the puck may still be there, but adapting through quick passes and a focus on play as a unit help Andersson control offensive flow much more effectively. Nothing fancy, just capitalizing on favorable situations in front of him.

So, What Happened?

My diagnosis for Lias Andersson is threefold:

1) Lias Andersson should not have been drafted at 7th overall, and this was clear at the time.
a) While there was a high level hockey mind and sense of awareness, there wasn’t the fundamental baseline of talent that led me to believe he was one of the best players available at the time. On paper, his ability to generate offensive threat was not and has never been particularly notable. Lucas Raymond, Lukas Reichel, Noel Gunler, Anton Lundell, Tim Stutzle, Roni Hirvonen and others were all high level men’s league prospects in 2020 with OffThreat metrics well past most measures Andersson has put up in his career. William Eklund is a 2021 prospect in the SHL who is also well past where Andersson was or ever has been. The ability to drive and dictate transitions or offensive production at 5v5 was just not there.
2) The Rangers rushed Lias Andersson through the developmental pipeline.
a) This, to me, is undeniable. There was no indication to me after Game 1 that Andersson was NHL ready. There was no indication after Game 2 that his game had improved to the point of changing that opinion. I watched a game of Andersson at the World Juniors that year, and while he scored 6 goals in the tournament, there were still similar concerns, but the Rangers must have loved what they saw, pulling him into the NHL/AHL system immediately. His fundamental skills had not improved to go with his hockey sense, and the offensive output, while slightly improved, was still not projectable.
3) The Rangers did not give Lias Andersson the right linemates to succeed.
a) In my view, players like Lias Andersson can be effective NHL centres. Smart positional thinking, simple/effective passing, and chipping in offensively through board playmaking and getting to the net are all traits that can lead to success. In order for that to happen, Andersson needs to act as a conduit with speedy skilled wingers on his flank to not only push pucks up ice and keep opponents on their heels, but to have the passing ability to get pucks to him at the start of a breakout if they need to generate the speed necessary to attack the offensive zone. Names like Brendan Smith, Brendan Lemieux, Greg McKegg and Boo Nieves are names that I would never dream of partnering with a player like Lias Andersson and doubly so if Andersson were struggling. Past a certain point, it felt like they were either trying to punish the offense out of his game, or trying to force him into a defense-only checking line role, but once he seemed to start to turn a corner, both parties pulled the chute.

I’m just one person with a computer and hundreds of tracked performances from around the world who has never played an NHL game, but in Andersson’s case, I can 100% see why not only Lias Andersson would be frustrated with his NHL career thus far, but why the New York Rangers showed signs of frustration with Andersson. I’m not sure what they expected out of him on the ice when they drafted him, but if your 7th overall pick isn’t meeting those expectations, frustration, panic and anger are all emotions that can creep in, even if the team is in the midst of a public rebuild. At the end of the day, Andersson and the Rangers have moved on. The Rangers landed Will Cuylle, a player I’d be much more comfortable playing with the aforementioned names in a depth role, and if Cuylle becomes anything useful for the Rangers, great! It’s more than what they felt they were getting out of Andersson, I suppose. The LA Kings landed Andersson, and while the price may be a bit high, the team has spent their draft capital effectively, with an absolute bastion of skilled, creative, and intelligent forwards who will hopefully populate the Kings lineup for years. So, where does Andersson go from here?

I believe that Andersson could be a roleplayer for the LA Kings. With Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Adrian Kempe, Alex Turcotte, Gabe Vilardi, and others all capable of playing down the middle, there may be competition for Andersson to land a full time job at centre, but where his game showed clear improvement was in the areas of simplicity, puck control, and executing on simple plays as soon as they present themselves. His percentage of offensive transitions done with control (OCZT%) sat at 53.2% (25/47) through four games, but since the 2019-20 season, that number increased to 80.6% (25/31). His dangerous pass attempts climbed from 5.1 per 60 5v5 minutes to 10.24, and the number of offensive transitions done with control increased by 45% in the sample since the 2019-20 season. With the LA Kings’ embarrassing plethora of young forwards with skill, creativity and skating ability, Andersson could find himself as a two-way player relying on positional intelligence, supporting defenders in the defensive zone, receiving first passes, and shipping pucks across bluelines to those linemates. If I’m being honest, if Andersson were drafted in a slot more akin to where he was ranked in the latter half of the 10-20 range, all of this would be perfectly fine. Most players outside the top half of the first round don’t end up premier, core pieces of an offense as often as the players drafted near the top. Andersson is also barely 22 years old at time of writing, so while his development curve is further along, and the end result may not be a significant offensive weapon, the signs are there that Andersson has turned his game into something that could work, given the right circumstances. Circumstances the LA Kings should be able to provide.

Lias Andersson was a mid-to-late 1st round prospect drafted in the Top 10. That comes with implicit expectations. He spent less than a season developing in Sweden before being put in a position he was clearly not ready for. This is demonstrable on paper, in my view. He spent time in the NHL pasted to depth players who were barely clinging to NHL jobs because, well, they weren’t great players. He got bounced around multiple leagues before developing into what seems to be a reasonable outcome for a mid-to-late 1st round prospect. If Andersson lands a role in the bottom six of the LA Kings, chipping in on transitions assisting young scoring wingers to get themselves in positions to produce while being a player you don’t notice tremendously often, then you’ve got yourself something useful. After everything Andersson has been through, he may end up right where his draft year data may have suggested he would end up.

So what was learned? From my perspective, the importance of seeing young players who can play with pace and creativity is what can separate a player from the pack in the NHL. Positional intelligence should be a given, especially for a young centre, but if the speed, adaptability, vision, or skill aren’t there, those are traits that are pivotal for top end players to capture the best versions of themselves. I’m also just a guy pumping numbers into a spreadsheet, but this is a situation where data can help you clearly craft a story to frame a player. Andersson was not driving tremendous levels of offense at any point before going to the NHL, be it through passing or shooting. It’s hard to expect a top pick to play like a top pick if there’s nothing in the analysis that indicates that he’s going to get there, especially on big ice with more time and space when Andersson is a player who clearly needed that time and space to formulate solutions and move pucks up the ice. With all of these things mashed together, it shouldn’t be hard to see how frustration can set in, especially when there is such a clear divide between what the Rangers must have thought they had, and what Andersson was capable of. He’s still young, he’s got a fresh start, and it’d probably take work for the LA Kings to find players that would be as poor a match on NHL ice as names like Haley, Smith, McKegg, and Lemieux were for Lias Andersson. I’m pulling for him, just as much as any young player on the planet as he tries to get a foothold in the NHL. Will he get there? He’s certainly shown clear statistical trends in the right direction, but we’re only able to wait and see.

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