The Rangers’ selected two players in the first round of the 2017 NHL entry draft, both of whom got a chance to play for medals yesterday in the 2018 U20 World Junior Championships. Filip Chytil, who played for his native Czech Republic, played in the bronze medal game. The Czech Republic was way overmatched by the United States and lost the game 9-3. Chytil played in all seven of his country’s games in the tournament and posted 4 points (two goals and two assists). There were better forwards on his team (including Filip Zadina—who will go top five in the upcoming draft—and Martin Necas, the Carolina Hurricane prospect), but Chytil showed incredible speed and face off abilities. Chytil has a tremendous amount of talent but still needs to work on his upper body strength. Before the tournament, some (including yours truly) were thinking that Chytil should be called up to the Rangers this coming month to see what he can do. But, after watching him play over the last 10 days, it’s my opinion that it would probably be best for him to spend the rest of the season in Hartford. That’s not a knock against Chytil, but he just did not dominate in a way that would make a call up an obvious move, and he can keep learning and gaining strength against players that are also not quite NHL-ready.
The other first round selection, Lias Andersson, captained Team Sweden in the WJCs. Andersson won more than 54% of his face offs and posted seven points (6 goals, 1 assist) in as many games. He centered the first line and was visible almost every time he was on the ice. He looks to be more NHL-ready, but will return to Sweden for the rest of the 2017-18 season.
Andersson skated in the magnificent gold medal contest last night, which ended in a 3-1 Canadian gold medal. It can be argued that Sweden actually played the better game yesterday, and that the Canadian victory may have been due to the penalties (rightly or wrongly) called against the Swedes (three minors in a row late in the second and early in the third periods). But the game winner was scored by Canada at even strength and none of the calls (or non-calls) were so egregious that one could say that the officiating in this game (or the tournament as a whole) was unfair.
So, it was a shame that, after both Chytil and Andersson made such solid impressions on the ice during the tournament, what many will remember about this tournament was Andersson tearing of his silver medal off his neck and throwing it into the crowd after the gold medal game. Much has been said about this over the last 24 hours, most of it rationalizing his action. Although I understand his desire to do so, it was a very poor decision in a moment of great upset.
Yes, it was an incredibly disappointing loss for Sweden and for Andersson, their captain. As a 1998, it was his last chance to win gold as a junior for his country. But, tearing a medal off his neck and throwing it into the crowd was just not an acceptable thing, no matter how he felt. Yes, he is just a kid, one who was crying and very distraught after the game. But, the action was wrong, what he said after the medal was returned was not right; and the fact that he still has not apologized or explained himself is not right.
In the scheme of things, this is minor, and, in the long run, will mean little to Andersson’s NHL career. But, he should just stand up and say he is sorry for what he did. Apologize. That’s what we all did when we made mistakes as teenagers. It is part of what made us who we are today. Hopefully, Andersson will learn from this too, and go on to have a long successful career in a Rangers uniform.