Lias Andersson

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Quick hits: Sens waive Hammond, Rangers send Andersson to Sweden

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NHL teams have until Tuesday to get their rosters down to 23 players (or perhaps less in specific, tight cap situations), so the waiver wire could be intriguing to watch until then.

Between that and sending prospects to the AHL, juniors, or even overseas, there are quite a few things going on. Let’s take care of some of those items in one convenient spot.

(Note: this isn’t necessarily comprehensive; if you want to cover every base, check out Rotoworld’s NHL page.)

  • First things first, waiver notes for Thursday. The two most prominent names are Matt Puempel of the New York Rangers and Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators.

Hammond is an especially interesting case.

The 29-year-old memorably saved the Senators’ season in 2014-15, also earning McDonald’s for life. Since then, he’s largely been lost in the shuffle of Ottawa: seemingly too prominent for the AHL but not quite established enough to take starts from Craig Anderson (and eventually passed by Mike Condon).

Hammond’s numbers haven’t been the greatest since then, and his $1.35 million cap hit isn’t the cheapest for someone who might not be a difference-making backup. Still, it’s plausible that some team – maybe one with a lot of space and some questions – might want to take a look. In this specific case, the odds increase because at least that cap hit will expire after 2017-18.

  • The New York Rangers loaned their first-round pick Lias Andersson to Sweden, where he’ll play for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. As the seventh pick of this past draft, Andersson is a guy to keep an eye on, possibly not too long from now.
  • There’s some belief that, while it isn’t official, the Dallas Stars are expected to send Julius Honka to the AHL, meaning that he’d lose out to the likes of Jamie Oleksiak.

Some believe that the Stars would be making the safe move as far as waivers go, rather than opting to put the best team on the ice.

The Rangers are keeping J.T. Miller at wing

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When the New York Rangers traded center Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes this offseason it created an opening at a pretty important spot in their lineup. With that new vacancy at center it seemed reasonable to conclude that J.T. Miller, coming off of a career year that saw him score 22 goals and record 56 points, would move back to his natural position on a more permanent basis.

According to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Monday, that will not be the case to start the season.

Vigneault announced on Monday that Miller is going to open the season playing on the wing, not necessarily because of anything he has or has not done, but because of the play of the other centers in Rangers camp.

This would seem to be good news for 2017 first-round picks Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson. Both have not only been impressing the team at camp, but still remain in the running for a roster spot. With Jesper Fast currently sidelined due to an injury, Vigneault said it is possible both of the Rangers’ first-round picks could start the season on opening night roster.

Along with the two draft picks, the only other move the Rangers made this offseason to address the center position was to bring in veteran David Desharnais.

Mika Zibanejad, who was limited to just 56 games a year ago due to injury, will also be expected to take on a bigger role in what will be his second year with the team.

The Rangers traded Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes over the summer in a deal that brought them back the No. 7 overall pick (used to select Andersson) and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo in an effort to create some cap space and help rebuild their defense.

Gorton deserves kudos for Rangers’ rebuild on the fly

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This post is part of Rangers Day on PHT…

It’s easy for fans to demand a full-on rebuild when times get tough for their team.

It’s another matter for a general manager to actually commit to years of losing, with no guarantee of brighter days ahead.

For Jeff Gorton, a tear-it-down rebuild was never really an option in New York anyway, even when the Rangers were looking particularly old and worn down. That’s largely because Henrik Lundqvist was signed through 2020-21, and it’s tough to tell your Hall-of-Fame goalie that it’s time to tank.

So the Rangers chose instead to rebuild on the fly.

Two years after replacing Glen Sather, one would have to conclude that Gorton has done a pretty good job in that regard. The Rangers may not be the strongest Stanley Cup contenders next season, but consider:

— Last summer, Gorton was able to use a team with pressure to win now (the Ottawa Senators) to trade Derick Brassard for Mika Zibanejad, the latter of whom is five years younger.

— A year later, Gorton found another team with pressure to get some immediate results (the Arizona Coyotes) and traded Derek Stepan and backup goalie Antti Raanta for the seventh overall draft pick (Lias Andersson) and Anthony DeAngelo, giving the Rangers two more talented youngsters to add to the stable.

— Gorton, whose team’s future had essentially been mortgaged by his predecessor, has been forced to do a lot of his work outside the draft, and the results have been impressive. His most celebrated move was getting Jimmy Vesey to sign, but he’s also added college free agents like John Gilmour and Neal Pionk, and he got Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov out of the KHL.

Throw in the fact the Rangers actually kept their first-round pick this year, selecting Czech center Filip Chytil 21st overall, and the future is looking a lot brighter today than, say, in April of 2016.

Oh, and Gorton was also able to sign Kevin Shattenkirk, the most coveted unrestricted free agent of the summer, to a below-market contract with a term of just four years. So that was pretty good, too.

Admittedly, this path may still lead to ruin — or, if not quite ruin, maddening mediocrity. The Rangers still don’t have a future Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, i.e. the kind of player that typically goes to teams that have bottomed out.

But on the path the Rangers have chosen to take, Gorton has done an admirable job, and for that he deserves credit.