May 04, 2018

From July to May – Lias Andersson’s long journey continues

LONG JOURNEY. Lias Andersson’s season started in July and is still on-going. Photo: Bildbyrån/Ludvig Thunman

How much hockey can you play without getting burned out? If you are to believe Lias Andersson, there’s no upper limit.  And he should know. The 19 year-old New York Rangers’ prospect finished last season in late April by winning the Swedish Championship title with HV71. After that, he was off for one month before diving into the hockey bubble once again.

While other players used their summer to heal their bodies and prepare for the upcoming season, Andersson was thrown into an endless period of travel.
“The summer was pretty intense”, he said with a smile as Elite Prospects met him during his preparations for the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

So let’s recap his crazy summer of 2017:
First, he was off to the NHL Combine in Buffalo where the draft eligible players are tested and interviewed by the teams, then it was the NHL draft in Chicago, where he was chosen 7th overall by the Rangers. After that, a development camp with the Blueshirts that was followed by a camp and the World Junior Summer Showcase with the Swedish U20 team in Plymouth, Michigan in late July. Less than a month later, he went to the Rangers’ camp and the rookie tournament in Traverse City before heading to main camp before finally being loaned to Frölunda of the SHL and heading home to Gothenburg.

Let’s take a moment to breathe before proceeding…
“I think I had four or five trips to North America and obviously it affects you”, Lias Andersson said. “You might not miss too many practices because you get to play so much hockey. But it’s all the flying that makes you tired. You get jet-laged and it kind of drains you.”

It was the price Lias Andersson had to pay. When the season started, he didn’t feel like himself on the ice.
“I felt tired right from the start, when you’re supposed to be energized and ready to go. It was bad timing with everything happening at once, but that’s what everyone goes through during their draft year”, he said. “I felt drained. There were a lot of new impressions and I had been traveling all summer long. I felt I couldn’t play my game at camp. It wasn’t like I sucked, but I didn’t play the way I wanted to.”

Photo: Bildbyrån/Ludvig Thunman

His performance at the rookie camp wasn’t what the Rangers had expected either. Gordie Clark, Director of Player Personnel, criticized Andersson after the rookie tournament in Traverse City.
“He had a very average camp. He might be tired or something, but he’s going to need to be better when the main camp starts”, Clark told MSG Network in September.

And yes, Lias Andersson was tired.
“Getting that criticism in media probably didn’t help my confidence as I was already a bit down and worn ot. It was a bit of a bad start to the season”, he confessed.

After coming home to Sweden, he said it probably took him about six or severn games before he felt like himself again.
“Then I had a pretty good run before the World Juniors, scoring some goals and contributing with some points”, Lias Andersson said. “It was too bad I couldn’t continue to ride that wave. But things worked out anyway. In hindsight, I’m happy with all the experiences this has given me.”

There’s certainly been plenty of experiences for the young Swede this past year. Both good and bad. At the World Juniors, he hurt his shoulder in the last round-robin game against Russia on New Year’s Eve. Lias Andersson finished the tournament, but it was quite grueling.
“I was in a lot of pain”, he said. ” I couldn’t raise my arm. I really had to gut it out, take a lot of shots and pills. So it was bad and didn’t get any better from playing. It hurt, but I don’t regret playing. Not for one second.”

He explained that the main reason why he put himself through the agony was because helt felt there was something special about the Swedish team.
“We had such a great bunch of guys. You could really feel it was a special group that could achieve something extraordinary. And those playoff games are the best games you can experience as a player. It’s the best thing about hockey.”

Photo: Bildbyrån/Joel Marklund

Lias Andersson needed some time to heal after the tournament to recover from the injury, and maybe most of all recover from the disappointment it was to lose the gold medal game to Canada. Less than three weeks after that experience – remembered for Andersson’s infamous silver medal toss – he made his debut with the New York Rangers’ farm team Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. The NHL club had decided to cancel their loan deal with Frölunda to let their prospect finish the season in North America. The long regular season came to a close with 25 games in the AHL and another seven in the NHL before he was invited to a try-out for the Swedish World Championship team.

Today, his shoulder feels better, but it’s not fully healed.
“It might not be what it used too, but it works. I need to tape the shoulder before every game, but I can play”, he explained and assured us that he won’t need surgery after the season. “No, I’ll just need to get some rehab done. It’s going to be a hundred percent next season for sure.”

So, after this whirlwind of a season where he has played on five different teams, how does Lias Andersson feel? Surprisingly good, it turns out.
“I’ve gained a lot of new experiences both on and off the ice. It’s mostly been fun, but kind of a roller coaster season with peaks and valley. That’s how I would summarize it”, he said.

And he hopes it’s going to be even more fun in Denmark. After the silver medal at the World Juniors, he gets a golden chance to put the disappointment behind him and end the season on a winning note.


October 21, 2018

Waiting in the wings – Swedish domination in the AHL

The American Hockey League uses a specific symbol in their scoring charts to indicate whenever a player is considered a rookie; an asterisk (*). In order to hav...
October 14, 2018

An unexpected youth movement: how the Canadiens is embracing its talent

Since the very first puck dropped on opening night, there’s been something different about the Montreal Canadiens. With veteran defender – and captain! – Shea W...
October 08, 2018

The Great Young Hope – Bouchard out to prove himself in the NHL

He wasn’t supposed to be this good. Not yet, at least. When Evan Bouchard was selected 10th overall in the 2018 NHL draft this summer, the perception was that t...
September 11, 2018

A yellow and blue Maple Leaf – how Toronto is becoming the new Detroit

It used to be the Detroit Red Wings that could ice a lineup made up entirely of Swedish players to start a game. Then, once Nicklas Lidström, Jonathan Ericsson,...
August 30, 2018

A journey into non-traditional hockey markets: the importance of role models

“Hockey”. For those of us that choose to be around this hauntingly beautiful sport, the mere mention of the word can send the mind racing. In an instant, you re...
August 26, 2018

Sharing a wealth of experience – Patrik Elias wants to give back to Czech hockey

ÖRNSKÖLDSVIK, SWEDEN (ELITEPROSPECTS.COM) The U20 Four Nations’ Tournament in Örnsköldsvik features some prominent talent. Finland has Montréal Canadiens&...
July 22, 2018

In the footsteps of the Sedins – Dahlén and Pettersson dream big

Elias Pettersson was awarded the 2018 Elite Prospects Award as the most prominent junior player in the SHL earlier this week. As we handed out the award to the...
July 19, 2018

And the winner is… Elias Pettersson

Since 2013, has handed out Elite Prospects Award to the best junior player in the Swedish league. This year, the jury had an easy task at han...
June 21, 2018

Grigori Denisenko – The Little Ball of Russian Hate

Picking the best player available is a common strategy during the draft. But what makes a player “the best available”? Is it talent? Attitude? A combination of...
June 19, 2018

EP Premium – a new beginning

When Johan Nilsson registered in his dorm room in Kalmar, Sweden back in 1999, he probably didn’t envision himself serving millions of ho...
June 19, 2018

Vitali Kravtsov – in the footsteps of Yevgeni Kuznetsov

Vitali Kravtsov was born in Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia. Today, the city has it’s own KHL team, but when he grew up, the hockey boom was yet to...
June 14, 2018

Nils Lundkvist – a Swedish surprise a head of the draft

When the 2017/18 season started, he was pretty much an unknown commodity in Swedish hockey. As we approach the 2018 NHL Entry draft in Dallas, Nils Lundkvist co...
May 23, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Detroit’s run of success finally caught up to them

After an unprecedented two-decade-long period of success that saw four Stanley Cup championships and the Hall of Fame careers of players like Steve Yzerman, Nic...
May 10, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: After disappointing season – can the Canadiens reload quickly?

If you were to sum up the 2017-18 season for the Montreal Canadiens you could probably do it in a thousand words. Or, you could do it with just one: disappointm...
May 07, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Svechnikov or Zadina – tough choice awaits the Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes faithful may soon see the fortunes of their beleaguered franchise shift after the Canes exited the April 28th NHL draft lottery with the...
April 30, 2018

Swedish Olympian to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs

At 26 years of age, he’s not by any means a prospect anymore. But Pär Lindholm is a late-bloomer who has had two seasons of great progress with Skellefteå...
April 29, 2018

Clock is ticking for Valeri Nichushkin – can he make a triumphant return to the NHL?

When Valeri Nichushkin was drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 10th overall pick in 2013, it was a bit of a surprise. After all, the Russian was picked ahead o...
April 26, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: Senators strong at center, in need of game-changer

The Ottawa Senators made a lot of noise this season. Just not the right kind of noise. Coming off a 2016-17 campaign in which the  franchise reached its third e...
April 26, 2018

Erik Brännström cherishes the opportunity to compete with NHL stars

One by one, the established NHL players have taken over the Swedish World Championship squad. Stars like Oliver Ekman Larsson, John Klingberg and Mika Zibanejad...
April 24, 2018

Adam Boqvist looking forward to his second NHL draft

Unlike most of his peers, Adam Boqvist went to the NHL Entry Draft one summer before it was his draft year. Not because he wanted to learn about the event, take...