For the average person, Lias Andersson is a free agent of almost 25 years old destined for the Laval Rocket, likely to be recalled to Montreal in the event of injuries due to his experience in the American League. For the Canadian’s VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton and his faithful right-hand man Nick Bobrov, now co-director of amateur recruiting in Montreal, Andersson undoubtedly constitutes the worst draft failure of their reign with the New York Rangers.
Andersson was drafted seventh overall by New York in 2017. Nico Hischier was the first overall pick by the New Jersey Devils, followed by Nolan Patrick to Philadelphia, Miro Heiskanen to Dallas, Cale Makar to Colorado and Elias Pettersson to Vancouver.
Nick Suzuki was chosen six spots after Andersson by the Vegas Golden Knights, before ending up in Montreal a year later against Max Pacioretty. The draft being a very imprecise science, Suzuki is the captain of CH today and Andersson would be delighted to obtain a position of 13e attacking in Montreal…
Andersson was nevertheless very well considered at the dawn of this draft. With a decent size, at 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, he could play on the wing as well as in the center. He was tenacious. Reliable defensively. He even obtained 19 points in 42 games with HV71, an impressive production for an 18-year-old, and even contributed to his team’s conquest of the Swedish championship. He was also the son of former NHL hockey player Niklas Andersson, a detail that always seems to please recruiters.
At the World Under-18 Championship, more than a year before the 2017 draft, Andersson finished second in Sweden’s scoring behind Alexander Nylander, a 2016 first-round pick, with nine points, including five goals. , in seven matches. Elias Pettersson, 102 points last year with the Vancouver Canucks, finished third with eight points, including just one goal.
Andersson was part of an interesting Swedish crop for this draft, with Pettersson, of course, and defensemen Erik Brannstrom and Timothy Liljegren.
He even scored three goals in seven games at the World Junior Championship, against older players, a tournament during which Pettersson had only one assist.
His selection in seventh place, however, came as something of a surprise, as he was ranked between 13e and the 15the rank on most specialist lists.
The NHL Central Scouting had ranked him third among European prospects, behind Klim Kostin and Elias Pettersson, and ahead of Miro Heiskanen and Martin Necas, but this is far from constituting a reference, it should even be noted. remove…
Before retiring, one of the Rangers’ European recruiters, the Swede Anders Kallur, an employee of the Islanders between 1993 and 2013 in the same functions, after winning four Stanley Cups on Long Island in the early eighties , was asked to announce the Rangers’ decision on the microphone. We guess that he preached for his parish. The choice was greeted with indifference in Chicago, but there were some boos.
New York held two first-round picks in 2017. They drafted Andersson with the pick they got from the Arizona Coyotes for Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta, Filip Chytil at 21e rank with their own choice. Ryan Poehling was drafted at 25e rank by the Canadian.
Andersson and Chytil did well in training camp. The former was loaned to Frölunda, Sweden, to start the season, after being one of the last players cut, the latter played in the Rangers’ first two games before being sent back to the American League.
There was no sign of a disappointing future for Andersson that winter. He amassed 14 points in 22 games in Frölunda and was named captain of the junior team at the World Championship in Buffalo, a team that included Elias Pettersson, Alex Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin (the youngest of the group of leaders , it must however be clarified) and Erik Brannstrom. Andersson’s six goals in seven games were a team-high and propelled Sweden to the final against Canada.
However, he stood out for the wrong reasons by throwing his silver medal into the crowd during the official presentation, disgusted at having lost 3-1 in the final.
Andersson suffered a shoulder injury during the tournament and was kept in America where he played 25 games in the American League, recording 14 points, and finished the season with the Rangers, before playing in the World Championship with Sweden.
He believed he was at the dawn of a great career; However, he was about to begin a… downward slope.
Tossed between the NHL and the farm club in Hartford. Interesting performance in Hartford, 20 points in 36 games at 20 years old, but starving production after his call-ups in New York.
Only one assist in 17 games with the Rangers, also unproductive in the American League, he left North America for Sweden and requested a trade. First suspended by New York, he was loaned to HV71 to help him find his bearings on familiar ground, on a European ice rink.
Started the season in Sweden, then finally obtained a transfer within the Los Angeles Kings organization in October 2020. Jeff Gorton managed to obtain a second round pick for him. The presence of Andersson’s father within the Kings’ recruiting group is undoubtedly not unrelated to his arrival in Los Angeles.
“When you draft a player this early, you hope he will have an impact sooner or later, but at this stage of his career, I don’t know,” Gorton said after the trade. Maybe we promoted him too early, who knows? But several things didn’t work. He needed a fresh start, he’ll get it. »
In three years in the Kings organization, Andersson proved too strong for the American League, with 82 points, including 43 goals, in just 86 games, but unproductive in the NHL with eight points, including four goals, in 44 matches.
Perhaps Andersson was thrown into the den of the wolf too soon. But there is also the fact that he is a forward drafted prematurely in the first round, not a bad player, but without a dominant asset to have a good career in the NHL.
We may be surprised by his presence at the Canadian golf tournament on Monday, since he does not even have a guaranteed contract in the National League and he played only one match there for the Kings last year.
But Gorton and Bobrov believed in him in 2017 and they will undoubtedly give him a final chance to resurrect his career in Montreal, and thus justify their choice of six years ago.
Another controversy for Mike Babcock
Former NHL hockey player Paul Bissonnette, who has become a social media star, accused the new coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mike Babcock, during an appearance on his podcast of having seized his players’ phones to project the content on a giant screen. He claims to have obtained the anonymous confidences of a player.
Babcock denies this. He claims to have asked certain players to show the content, directly from their phone, to get to know them better. Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner comes to the coach’s defense, claiming he showed Babcock photos of his family on his phone, before gaining access to some photos from his coach’s device, in a mutual exchange.
“It was an interesting first meeting,” Jenner said in a statement. To see this story take on such proportions is disappointing. »
Babcock was forced out of Toronto a few years ago for abuse of power. Among other things, he asked his young striker Mitch Marner to provide him with a list of the team’s leaders in order, from the first to the last member of the club, before revealing its contents to the rest of the team.
Who is telling the truth in this story? Hard to say. But Columbus would undoubtedly have done without such controversy at the dawn of the season.
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