Lias Andersson makes season debut tonight


After spending the first month in Hartford where he performed well, 2017 first round pick Lias Andersson makes his season debut for the Blueshirts when they take on the Canadiens at The Garden. Having just turned 20, Andersson believes he is ready to contribute after producing four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 14 games for the Wolf Pack.

The seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft just missed earning a roster spot in camp. The surprising Brett Howden edged him out. Howden has been a shining light for the 6-7-1 Rangers, who enter tonight’s match winners of three in a row. He’s tied for third in team scoring with nine points (3-6-9). Unfortunately, he sustained an injury in Sunday’s win over the Sabres. He was held out for precautionary reasons. Even though he told reporters he felt better, the Rangers are being cautious with the 20-year old rookie, whose nine points rank second among freshmen.

At first glance, it didn’t look like Andersson would get the call. However, the organization felt he is ready to help out. For how long, it’s hard to say. With Ryan Spooner continuing to underperform with only two points in a dozen games, there’s an opportunity here for Andersson and the other 2017 first round pick Filip Chytil, who still hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games. However, coach David Quinn feels there’s enough positives from the teenager to keep him in the lineup. He picked up an assist on a power play goal the other day. A skilled player, it would be nice to see Chytil get one. I’m sure the organization is continuing to assess what will be best for his development. He has three assists thus far.

Both Andersson and Chytil each got in nine games last season under Alain Vigneault. The limit so the first year of their entry level contracts wouldn’t be burned. Now, it’s about taking the next step in the rebuild.

Fans must remain patient with both. They may not get ideal ice-time to be successful right away. But Quinn is managing them as best he can despite some gripes from other fans. He wants to make sure they become complete players. Not an easy thing to do. This is a coach who hasn’t been afraid to make examples out of veterans.

It’s an exciting time for Rangers fans. Let’s remember that. Tonight, we get to see both 2017 first round picks in the lineup. The future is now. But it’ll take time.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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