Ultimately, coach David Quinn simply could not find enough ice time for Lias Andersson to justify keeping him, and so, on Sunday, a day after the 21-year-old Andersson played just 3:55 in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, the Rangers demoted the 2017 first-round pick to their Hartford farm team. Left wing Tim Gettinger, also 21, was recalled from Hartford.
Andersson was the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft, a pick the Rangers acquired in a draft day blockbuster deal that sent center Derek Stepan and backup goalie Antti Raanta to Arizona and also brought back defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
Andersson has yet to find a niche with the Rangers, though. The young Swede failed to make the Rangers out of training camp in 2017, and went back to Sweden for half a season, before returning to North America to play in Hartford for the second half of the season.
He was a surprise cut in 2018, when he was beaten out by Brett Howden for the fourth-line center spot, and though he was called up during the season and played 42 games for the Rangers, he never established himself as a regular.
Andersson lost weight over the summer - he was listed as 6-1, 190 this season - and made the Rangers out of camp. But he couldn't climb out of the fourth-line role.
Quinn was asked a week ago after the Rangers had lost in a shootout, 6-5, to the Florida Panthers, whether he needed to find more ice time for Andersson. He replied, “He's got to earn more ice time.’’
Andersson had just one assist in 17 games for the Rangers this season, playing mostly on the fourth line and as a penalty killer. In Saturday’s game, his ice time was affected by the fact that his left winger, Micheal Haley, committed a slashing penalty early in the first period and he was benched for the rest of the game by Quinn, who mostly just played three forward lines from that point. Haley, who played only 1:26 in the game, was waived on Sunday, and likely will be sent to Hartford once he clears waivers.
Andersson didn’t get any shorthanded ice time on Saturday.
The 6-6, 218-pound Gettinger, a second-year pro from Cleveland, played in 17 games for Hartford, registering four goals and two assists for six points. He has played four games for the Rangers, all last season.
With Andersson going down, Greg McKegg likely will shift to the role of fourth-line center. McKegg, who played on the third line against Florida and Tampa Bay, with rookie Kaapo Kakko missing both games because of the flu, has one goal and one assist in 11 games this season.