The Rangers finalized the roster yesterday, with Brett Howden making the team over Lias Andersson. That was the biggest surprise of the roster, as the rest played out pretty much as expected. The Blueshirts will carry eight defensemen, also expected. As usual, I have thoughts.
- There was a lot of hubbub on social media about Andersson’s reassignment to the AHL. The 19 year old was called a bust, and the Lias truthers were out in full. From “he can’t skate” to “should’ve drafted (insert player), told you” to “ugh trade him already.” It was honestly quite funny considering Andersson was drafted a little over a year ago and isn’t even of legal drinking age yet.
- Regarding Andersson, he is still a highly regarded prospect. He can skate very well, he has all the tools to make it to the NHL and stick, and he will be on the Rangers this season. It’s fair to say you preferred a player in that draft over him, but to say he’s a bust or that he doesn’t have any hockey skills is hyperbolic overreaction.
- The decision to send him to the AHL wasn’t Cody McLeod over Lias. It was basically Filip Chytil and Brett Howden over Lias. Chytil had a better preseason and won the spot in the top-nine. Howden had a great preseason as well, and the decision was made that he would be the 4C, and Lias would be better served getting 1C minutes in Hartford over 4C minutes in New York. The minute there is an injury in the top nine, Lias will be back.
- Moving on from Lias, I am glad a bunch of folks here kept reminding me I was sleeping on Howden. I watched him a little more closely this preseason, and he 100% earned his spot on the club. I don’t think he will be the 4C for the remainder of his career, and as spots open up, he will move up in the lineup.
- As for the defense, carrying eight defensemen is the smart choice. I went into detail on that yesterday though, and I’m not going to hash it all out here again.
- The first practice lines were also made public yesterday, with the forward lines being close to what we expect. I have some minor preferences that would change the lines –like Vlad Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey swapping spots– but overall it’s tough to go wrong with that group. The Rangers are deep at forward.
- As for defense, I wasn’t overly enamored with the pairings. It more or less comes down to preferring Brady Skjei to be with Kevin Shattenkirk, and preferring Tony DeAngelo not be the 7D. I’m more concerned about that than I am about Lias, honestly. That said, it’s the first game of the season, and I expect a rotation in those eight defensemen to ensure everyone gets playing time.
- Remember that injuries happen, and there will be call ups, trades, and other moves made as the season progresses. This is not the roster that will finish the season.