Lias Andersson is your third center

All training camp, Lias Andersson has been on a mission. Out to prove he can a better two-way center option due to a good workout regimen that saw him lose some weigh, the 2017 number seven pick taken by the Rangers in the first round has proven he belongs on the ’19-20 roster.

Improved skating along with his usual fiery grit have been on display throughout preseason. He entered tonight’s final exhibition match versus the Islanders with two goals. That tied him for the team lead with Artemi Panarin.

Andersson continues to make a good impression. He’s around the puck, wins defensive battles, and has been noticeably better offensively. His hustle was rewarded earlier this week in a home win. Tonight, he set up the lone goal for the Blueshirts by staying with the puck and finding Vladislav Namestnikov open for a quick one-timer that beat Islanders backup Thomas Greiss.

Given how well the third line has played in this game, it’s likely that you’ll see Andersson centering Namestnikov and Jesper Fast on Thursday night against Winnipeg.

It’s funny the way things work out. When the Rangers sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Coyotes in exchange for that number seven pick and Tony DeAngelo, it didn’t look so good initially. But that’s the thing about trades. Things can change quickly.

DeAngelo looks like a top four defenseman who’s reliable at both ends, and Andersson is starting to look like the guy the Rangers selected. People forgot how young he was, even writing him off.

Well, he fits. Filip Chytil continues to struggle. He’s likely headed to Hartford. As for Vitali Kravtsov, he has a case. But the numbers don’t favor him. So, expect him to be sent down.

I’ll have a little more later.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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