After the Rangers changed the look of their franchise Tuesday by taking forward Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft, on Day 2, they chose to move on from former first-round pick Lias Andersson, trading him to the Los Angeles Kings.
In exchange for Andersson, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2017 draft, the Rangers received a second-round pick Wednesday, No. 60 overall, which they used to take rugged Windsor Spitfires winger William Cuylle, a 6-3, 204-pounder who said he models his game after that of Washington’s Tom Wilson.
“I'm a power forward,’’ Cuylle said on a Zoom call after he was drafted. “I play a pretty rough and tough game, and I like to score goals, as well.’’
Andersson languished in a fourth-line role when he was with the Rangers and totaled three goals, six assists, nine points in 66 games over parts of three seasons. He was sent down to AHL Hartford last season, but he left there and went home to Sweden. The Rangers eventually loaned him to Swedish club HV71, where he played 15 games at the end of last season (7-5-12) and four games at the start of 2020-21 (1-3-4).
“When you take a guy that high, you hope he has an impact sooner than later,’’ Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said of Andersson, a 5-11, 198-pound center. “He's still a young guy -turning 22 on Oct. 13]… I think he needed a fresh start. So we just made a decision to -- I thought maybe it's best for him to move on and start over, and same for us.’’
The Rangers also on Wednesday beat the 5 p.m. deadline to present qualifying offers to the five restricted free agents on their NHL roster – goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, defenseman Tony DeAngelo, and forwards Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux and Phillip DiGiuseppe – and prevent them from becoming unrestricted free agents. The offer to Strome wasn’t extended until the afternoon, and Gorton admitted the club looked into the possibility of trading him before deciding to qualify him.
“Ryan's due a significant raise [over his $3.2 million salary in 2019-20] and we had some things we were talking to some teams about and I just wanted to keep the options open right to the very last second there,’’ Gorton said.
The Rangers have to wonder whether Strome’s 18 goals, 41 assists and 59 points in 2019-20 – all career highs – were inflated by playing with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. And they have to decide if they believe Strome can be their No. 2 center for the long term, and then figure out how much they are willing to pay him.
After taking Cuylle, the Rangers took Swedish forward Oliver Tarnstrom with their third-round pick (92 overall) and goalie Dylan Garand, of Kamloops, with their fourth-rounder (No. 103). They traded two of their three seventh round picks to San Jose in exchange for an early fifth-rounder (No. 127), which they used to take center Evan Vierling of the Barrie Colts. They took 5-9 wing Brett Berard of the U.S. National Team Development Program at No. 134, and finished up by taking 6-8 center Matthew Rempe, of Seattle (WHL) in the sixth round, and 6-8 goalie Hugo Ollos, or Lincoping, in Sweden’s Junior league.