Can Rangers’ Lias Andersson Shine in 2019-20?

Coming into the 2019-20 season, all eyes are on the youth of the New York Rangers. Though they have only been in the league for a minute, or none at all, many believe that there is hope surrounding this organization.

One of those hopeful pieces is the seventh-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Lias Andersson. Last season, Andersson suited up for the Rangers for 42 games and contributed two goals and four assists.

The 20-year-old hasn’t made waves in the NHL thus far, but that could very well change. Entering his second full season, a lot can change. Can we see Andersson become a breakout star?

Disappointment Thus Far

Andersson has been a disappointment thus far for a top-10 selection. Point production aside, he hasn’t really shown a consistency alike those drafted alongside him. He was used in more of a defensive center role last season, but with a 44.2% faceoff percentage and a Corsi-For of just 42.5%, it all around hasn’t been good for Andersson.

Lias Andersson New York Rangers
Lias Andersson, New York Rangers, Nov. 23, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Even Filip Chytil, who was drafted by the Rangers later on in that round, has shown flourishes of excitement and positive performances. Last season, Chytil came out and wowed Rangerstown hopefuls with blazing speed and creativity with the puck.

Andersson hasn’t shown any of that. Understandably, Andersson is not the same type of player as Chytil or the same type of those that were drafted around, but something more should have been shown by now. Going into the 2019-20 season, with an upgraded roster, Andersson can benefit from all of the changes ahead of him.

How It Could All Change

The pressure is off. With a plethora of young talent pushing themselves into the Rangers lineup come this October, all eyes aren’t directly on Andersson. For much of last season, he was under constant scrutiny for lackluster performances and underachieving. Now, the attention has shifted to the “new kids” on Broadway.

Kappo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shesterkin are ready to begin their NHL careers with the New York Rangers. Each of them has a lot to prove and expectations are high with the signings of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba.

Kappo Kakko Rangers Draft
Kappo Kakko, New York Rangers, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

With the expectations being on all of those other players, Andersson has some room to breathe.

Will He Shine Through?

This could be the year that Andersson shines through all of the disappointment. It will take a lot, but it could very well happen.

The top six of the Rangers roster have been significantly upgraded. Newly acquired left-winger Panarin, the Rangers future resides in Mika Zibanejad and recently re-signed Pavel Buchnevich will likely make up the top line. Behind them will likely be Chris Kreider on the left side, Ryan Strome in the middle and then Kakko or Kravtsov on the right-wing.

Underneath all of that is a lot of room for movement. If Vladislav Namestnikov can make it past the buyout phase, he will surely be on the third line as a center or winger. Chytil will also be on the third line, alongside whichever of Kravtsov or Kakko is left off of line number two.

This leaves the fourth line. Where Andersson will be but could step up to the above lines. Joining Andersson will be a revolving door of Brandon Lemieux, if re-signed, Vinni Lettieri, Jesper Fast, and fellow youngster Brett Howden. Each of those players could complement and boost his abilities on the fourth line.

New York Rangers Jesper Fast Tampa Bay Lightning Louis Domingue
New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

If not, Andersson could likely see some time with the AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack. Going back-and-forth between the two could do some good for him, as seeing first-line minutes in the AHL helped Andersson’s production last season.

How bright or dull Andersson shines in the 2019-20 season is completely up to him. With a hopeful team and positive energy surrounding him, it would make sense that he can pick up his less than stellar performances in his young career.