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Andersson on ELC: A Big Step on Way to NHL

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The last three weeks for Lias Andersson have been a whirlwind to say the least.

The 18-year-old heard his name called by the Rangers with the seventh overall pick in the NHL Draft on June 23 in Chicago, and two days later he was on his way to New York for the first time for the organization's prospect development camp.

The good times kept rolling on Thursday when Andersson inked his entry-level contract with the Blueshirts.

"It feels amazing of course," Andersson told NYRangers.com in a phone interview. "One of my biggest dreams comes true, to sign my first contract. It's a big step on my way to NHL. It feels very good right now."

Andersson has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League, that country's top organization. Last year, Andersson notched nine goals and 19 points in 42 games with HV71. He was second among players 20 years old or younger in goals and assists, and tied for second in points.

Andersson added four goals and an assist in 16 postseason contests, as HV71 captured the Le Mat Trophy as SHL champions.

With prospect camp behind him, Andersson said his goal now is to prepare for the Traverse City Prospect Tournament in September, followed by main camp the following week. He said his biggest goal is to improve his stamina and conditioning, an area he knows is crucial for success as he moves up the ladder in professional hockey.

The trade of Derek Stepan to Arizona - which brought back the pick New York used to draft Andersson - and the loss of Oscar Lindberg to Vegas in the expansion draft has created competition down the middle for the Rangers, who signed forward David Desharnais last week.

Andersson said he's going into training camp with the intention of earning a spot on the opening night roster on Broadway.

"That's my goal to start with the team the first year," Andersson stated. "It's all about winning at this level. It's not junior hockey anymore; it's pro hockey and it's all about winning. I'm coming to camp with a mindset to make the team and I gotta work for it."

Andersson got his first taste of life as a Ranger at prospect camp where he caught the attention of the man who will have a big say in where Andersson spends next season.

"He's got great hands and he can play," coach Alain Vigneault told the NY Post. "He's going to get every opportunity."

While Andersson was happy to hear that praise from the bench boss, he understands nothing will be given to him come training camp.

"It's great to hear," Andersson said of Vigneault's comments. "I have to work my butt off every night for the coach, for the team and for the fans. I'm here to win."

The last three weeks have brought with it plenty of reasons to be excited for Andersson, but ultimately the youngster knows this is the first chapter of what he hopes to be a long book in New York.

"First get drafted, then sign the contract and now I have my contract and I have my team and I'm ready to go," Andersson said. "Of course, I have it in the back of my head of playing at MSG and win the Stanley Cup, but it's just a contract.

"There are many other good players, good prospects … very good players in Hartford and with the Rangers," he added, "so I still have to work very hard and be humble."

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