GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Walking around the Rangers’ summer prospect development camp, one can almost pick out the guys who’ve been here before. Lias Andersson, one of the Rangers’ two first-round picks in 2017, along with Filip Chytil, has the look of a guy who’s really comfortable inside the team’s practice facility — even if he’s wearing borrowed skates.
“Last year was the first time (at the camp),’’ Andersson said Monday, after the second day of the camp. “There were lots of new things, and I didn’t know anyone. This year, I know all the coaches (the Hartford staff is conducting all the on-ice drills) and all of the trainers and all that stuff, so it’s a little more relaxed this year.’’
Andersson, 19, seemed relaxed enough after completing the afternoon practice session in borrowed equipment. His luggage and gear still hadn’t arrived in New York after it got hung up in France, where he changed planes Friday on his way over from Sweden.
Not having his equipment kept him off the ice Monday, the first day of camp. On Tuesday, he had to wear teammate Chris Kreider’s skates, which he said were “a little tight,’’ but by the end, he was in a good mood, joking that hopefully wearing Kreider’s skates would help him skate faster.
“He’s one of the fastest skaters in the league, so it’s good for me,’’ he said.
The Rangers took Andersson with the No. 7 pick overall last year, and he spent the first half of the season with his team in Sweden, Frolunda, before coming over at midseason to play in Hartford, where he put up five goals, nine assists (14 points) in 25 games for the Wolf Pack.
The forward was called up to the Rangers for the final seven games of the season and scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, becoming, at 19 years, 164 days, the youngest Ranger to do that. From there, he went on to play for Sweden at the World Championships, where he and the team earned the gold medal.
“To be able to play in the best league in the world — I played a couple games against Washington, who won the Stanley Cup — is very cool,’’ he said. “I was with the national team, too, and (to be around) all the NHL superstars we had, it was very cool, so it just helped my confidence. Hopefully I can bring that into camp, here and for September.’’
With the Rangers having chosen four Swedish players at the NHL draft, and having signed another Swede in free agent Michael Lindqvist as an undrafted European free agent last month, Andersson has been busy showing the contingent around.
This fall, he and Chytil are expected to mount a serious challenge to grab an opening night roster spot, according to GM Jeff Gorton, but Andersson said he doesn’t think the GM’s words will put any additional pressure on him.
“I don’t think so. It’s just fun that he believes in us and the organization believes in us,’’ he said.
Sounds pretty relaxed, no?