Lias Andersson spoke with LA Kings media for the first time on Saturday, and he revealed some major news on where he intends to play in 2021.
For the first time since being acquired during the 2020 NHL Draft, Lias Andersson spoke with LA Kings media at training camp on Saturday. The former seventh overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft was traded from the Rangers to Los Angeles in exchange for a second-round pick.
At the time, the 21-year-old had just three goals and nine points in 66 NHL games. Andersson’s time in New York was tumultuous, to put it mildly, capped by a team suspension after leaving the AHL’s roster and requesting a trade. He returned to Sweden, playing for HV71 of the SHL for the remainder of the 19-20 season.
Per reports, he was expected to stay there for the 20-21 season had he remained with the Rangers’ organization. That was until he was traded.
“Yeah, of course, I was a little shocked being traded,” Andersson said. “I was super happy when it happened. I was focused on playing the whole year in Sweden, but things changed when I was traded. I’m very excited to be here.”
Now 22 years old, Andersson made his intentions quite clear. “My plan is to stay (in North America) the whole year.”
Andersson joins a wealth of centerman on the LA Kings roster. With the Rangers, he primarily skated with the bottom-six forwards, seeing approximately ten games along the left-wing in the 18-19 season. Where he’ll line up in Los Angeles remains to be determined, but Andersson prefers to line up at center.
“It’s easy for me to play center. I’ve been playing there my whole life. I can play on the wing as well, but center is my preferred position.”
The top three centers on the roster figure to be Anze Kopitar, Gabe Vilardi, and Blake Lizotte. Andersson will be among several players battling for fourth-line centerman duties. If anything, he’s joining a terrific situation, learning from a consummate professional in Kopitar.
The two-time Stanley Cup winner said on Friday that he typically leads by example. But with more younger players on the roster this season, he may have to adapt into a “ra-ra” guy, one that is more vocal on and off the ice.
When asked who he models his game after, Andersson smiled on Saturday’s Zoom call, indicating that he’s already on the (LA Kings) roster.
“I didn’t know he (Kopitar) was this smart. I’m trying to watch him as much as I can because I don’t think there is a better role model.”
Andersson has one year left on his entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent after the 2021 season.