When it began, I can begin to tell you (apologies to the great Neil Diamond) that it likely all started to go wrong this year for Lias Andersson during the pregame introductions for the Oct. 3 season opener at the Garden when the center tripped over a television cable on the ice. In the third period of the Rangers’ 6-4 victory over the Jets, Andersson got two shifts worth at 1:29.
That was the season in capsule for Andersson, who was demoted to AHL Hartford on Nov. 17, fled the organization’s jurisdiction by walking out on the Wolf Pack on Dec. 20 to return to Sweden, was summarily suspended, and, after a pause in his career, was permitted by Blueshirts president John Davidson to join his HV-71 club on loan.
So what now for the — repeat after me — seventh-overall pick of the 2017 draft? The Rangers, who did not get a nibble on Andersson at the Feb. 24 deadline, had hoped to be able to include him as part of a trade package during the offseason. Now, it is impossible to say given all attendant uncertainty, though given the Blueshirts’ lack of depth up-front, Andersson could wind up in New York for his fourth pro camp.
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(Interlude I: Even if this is it as a Ranger for Andersson, nine points (3-6) in 66 games, his selection does not come close to being the club’s most unwise first-round pick over the last quarter-century. In order, here are the worst: 1. Hugh Jessiman, 12th overall, 2003; 2. Pavel Brendl, fourth overall, 1997, with the pick acquired from Tampa Bay for Niklas Sundstrom, Dan Cloutier and the New York first-rounder; 3. Dylan McIlrath, 10th overall, 2010; 4. Bobby Sanguinetti, 21st overall, 2006, with Claude Giroux selected next by the Flyers; 5. Al Montoya, sixth overall, 2004; 6. Jeff Brown, 22nd overall, 1996, with Daniel Briere selected two spots later by the Coyotes.
How about that run from 2003 to 2006 when Jessiman, Montoya and Sanguinetti combined to play five total games for the Rangers, Sanguinetti getting them all midway through 2009-10. Maybe then-general manager Glen Sather knew what he was doing when he traded away the team’s next 73 first-rounders.)