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Lias Andersson hopes family ties lead to Rangers roster spot

Father, uncle of New York center prospect played in League

by Kaitlyn Kaminski / Correspondent

Center Lias Andersson could complete a unique hat trick when he reaches the NHL.

If the 18-year-old, selected by the New York Rangers with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, goes on to play in the League, he would be the third member of his family to do so.

His father, Niklas Andersson, and uncle Mikael Andersson, each played in the NHL. Niklas, a left wing, had 82 points (29 goals, 53 assists) in 164 games over six seasons with six teams and is now an amateur scout for the Los Angeles Kings. Mikael, a right wing, had 264 points (95 goals, 169 assists) in 761 games over 15 seasons with five teams. He is a scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"My mom and dad met for the first time in New York," Andersson told the Rangers website. "They can show me around a little bit. My dad played for the [New York] Islanders, so hopefully I can take his old apartment."

There is much more to New York's attraction than family nostalgia. 

The Rangers parted with center Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes to get the No. 7 pick and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

New York projects Andersson, who had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 42 games against older players with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League, as a No. 2 center in the NHL.

Andersson (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) left HV71 in May to play for Frolunda, which includes Niklas Andersson and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist among its alumni, and Lundqvist sent Lias a text message welcoming him to New York.

Gordie Clark, the Rangers' director of player personnel, said he believes one more season in Sweden will have Andersson NHL-ready.

"He's a [heck] of a player," Clark said. "We've really needed a certain kind of player to add into our organization. This guy, his work ethic and his ability … you're going to love him and the fans are going to love him. He has the combination of the grit and the ability that we've been looking for.

"He's not a dynamic scorer, he's a dynamic player in the way that he plays. He's just so driven driving the net, forechecking, finishing checks, and then he can make a pass, make a play. I mean, he's playing in the men's league, and HV71 won it and he was a prime player for them in the playoffs. He plays more of a North American style, and that's what we like about him."

Andersson also has plenty of confidence.

"I want to make the team this year, earlier than next year," he said. "I want to make it all the way to the first game in October … That's my goal. You have to try and work for it every day.

"[There's] no pressure, I'm just enjoying the game. There are so many good players [in the NHL]. I'm not better than anyone else. … They needed a center and they needed me and they took me in the first round."

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