2015 Prospect Tournaments: Rangers’ Andersson set to run with the WolfPack this season

By Sean Shapiro
Calle Andersson - EV Zug - Champions Hockey League

Photo: New York Rangers defensive prospect Calle Andersson split his time between EV Zug and HC Lugano in the Swiss National League A last season, totaling six goals and 20 points in 48 games (courtesy of Hannu Rissanen/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)



Calle Andersson knows there are going to be ups and downs this season.

The New York Rangers prospect is making the move from Europe and it’s larger expansive ice surface, to North America where he’s expected to play with the Hartford WolfPack in the American Hockey League.

“I don’t think the ice is that much of a difference for me,” Andersson  said. “It’s more of the other things. The speed and the space around that. What do you do here? What do you do there? Those types of things that you have to figure out.”

Andersson started laying the groundwork for that adjustment this past week at the 2015 Traverse City Prospects Tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings.

Andersson ’s game in North America was “just OK,” before he started to find his rhythm and grew more comfortable in a 4-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects on Monday.

In that game Andersson showed off some of the pedigree that enticed the Rangers to select him with a fourth round pick, 119th overall, in 2012.

He had a smooth stride and was positionally sound. He also had good vision on the ice, dishing out an assist and scoring on a point shot that snuck through a screen.

“He’s getting better,” Ken Gernander, who coached the Rangers’ prospects, said. “The first game, you could see there was some work to be done. And there still is, but he’s starting to get a better grasp of what he needs to do.”

Andersson’s path to the Rangers has taken an interesting route.

He played in his native Sweden for the Malmo Redhawks from 2012 to 2014 before making the move to Switzerland last season. In Switzerland, the then 20-year-old had 20 points in 48 games for EV Zug and HC Lugano.

In the Swiss league, Andersson played against several North Americans, which he says helped prepare him for making his own trip across the Atlantic.

“I was playing with older guys, and many who are from over here,” Andersson  said. “They have a higher, you know, compete level. That’s something I learned about in Switzerland. I think it was good for me before I came over here.”

It could be even more valuable when the Rangers open training camp later this week, where he will face full-time NHL players for the first time.

“I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

If Andersson can adapt, he’ll add to a talented pool of Rangers prospects on the blue line.

Brady Skjei headlines the group and stood out as New York’s best defenseman before missing the final game in Traverse City with a “slight ding.” He’s joined by Ryan Graves, Dylan McIlrath, and Mat Bodie, who have Rangers’ management excited about the future.

“They really are a talented group,” Gernander said. “We have to remember that they’re young and they’ll grow into this.”

And there will be growing pains, but Andersson understands it’s all part of the process.

“It’s important to be the best player I can,” he said. “That’s what’s most important for me and the Rangers.”

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @SeanShapiro