Well, it happened.
Lias Andersson will be leaving the Rangers through a trade.
Despite the chatter earlier in the season that the Rangers might trade him, Andersson has requested this trade himself and been suspended from Hartford where he was playing. This leaves GM Jeff Gorton to assess the market during the holiday freeze and try to get as much value for Andersson as he possibly can.
With his lackluster recent performance for the Rangers, Andersson probably won’t bring back much in terms of draft picks alone. As a result, it might be more beneficial for the Rangers to look at getting a player or prospect back rather than a low-round draft pick for a player who was picked seventh overall.
Though it’s early, here are some places Andersson might land in a one-for-one trade, or something close to it.
1) Edmonton Oilers
While the Puljujarvi for Andersson trade didn’t work out earlier when the Rangers tried it, that’s no reason to rule it out completely. In spring 2012, the Rangers tried hard but failed to get Rick Nash only to successfully trade for him a few months later. If Edmonton fails to drum up more interest for Puljujarvi, it’s possible they could circle back around to this trade and make a deal with the Rangers. This trade could be a good change of scenery for both players who no longer want to continue playing for their current teams.
2) Ottawa Senators
Ottawa is a rebuilding team with a reputation for successfully working with players other teams have traded away to them. Just look at how they turned around Chara. Since Ottawa is rebuilding, they might be more willing than other teams to take a chance on Andersson and see if they can develop his game further. Ottawa may be looking to trade center Jean-Gabriel Pageau since they reportedly haven’t had any talks with his camp about negotiating a contract extension. Pageau has been having a hot season, so this deal likely wouldn’t be one-for-one, but it’s possible that Ottawa and the Rangers might be able to broker a swap if the Rangers were willing to pad the deal with draft picks or other prospects as needed.
3) Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are a team with weaker center depth, so it might benefit them to trade for a depth player like Andersson. It’s possible that the Leafs would be interested in trading right-winger Jeremy Bracco in a one-for-one deal for Andersson. Bracco has spent three seasons in the AHL playing for the Marlies and was just called up to play in Toronto due to an injury on their roster. Bracco has been a polarizing prospect for Toronto, and if he doesn’t seize on his chance to play for the team now, they could continue looking to trade him.
4) Los Angeles Kings
LA is a rebuilding team like Ottawa, so they might be willing to take a stab at developing Andersson and see if they can do what the Rangers couldn’t. Additionally, the Kings were reportedly interested in Andersson at the time of the 2017 draft. It’s possible some of that interest may have lingered, and they might still be interested in getting him now. There are a host of possible returns on the L.A. front as the Kings look to be sellers at the deadline. It might be easier to name the players the team wouldn’t potentially trade, given the right opportunity.
All that said, just because Andersson has requested a trade doesn’t mean he’ll be moved right away. Gorton could wait until the market is better or hold out for the trade deadline. He could also look to move Andersson as part of a package deal with someone like Kreider to get a better return in the form of players or draft picks. It’s definitely a shame that things worked out this way between Andersson and the Rangers.
Though it’s hard to argue that his decision to walk from Hartford doesn’t indicate some sort of attitude issue, it also seems like management is at least partially responsible for the situation and could’ve done more to ensure their first-round pick stayed with the organization.
Given the totality of the situation, maybe a trade will be best for both sides.
Featured Image: Jim McIssac