ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Lias Andersson is the No.3-ranked internationals skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche have the fourth overall selection at the draft.
Lias Andersson wasn't fazed when he was asked "What animal he would want to be?" in a meeting with an NHL team at the recent Scouting Combine.
"I'd be a lion for sure," Andersson recalled to NHL.com. "I wouldn't want to be a snake."
This answer did not shock anyone as the centerman from Smögen, Sweden, roared to life this past season with the Swedish Hockey League's HV71.
In his professional debut with the team in 2015-16, he only played a handful of games to get a feel for what it's like to play in Sweden's highest men's league.
In 2016-17, he had a much larger role. He put up 19 points with nine goals and 10 assists in 42 games, impressive numbers considering he averaged only 13:19 of ice time. During the playoffs, he had four goals and five points, helping HV71 capture the SHL title.
Video: Alan Hepple discusses Lias Andersson
At the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship, the 5-foot-11, 198-pound lefty helped bring home a silver medal by putting up nine points in seven contests, registering five tallies and four helpers.
At the most recent World Junior Championship, Andersson was brought up to the Swedish U20 team and scored three goals in the tournament.
Thomas Monten is the head coach of the Sweden National Junior Team and regarded Andersson as a very strong asset for the club during the tournament.
"I think he was our best center the first three games," Monten said to NHL.com. "He's a little bit bigger, he's a little bit stronger, he can play on the inside a bit more. He's a strong faceoff guy."
His stats on the international stage have stood out among the strong skaters eligible for this year's draft. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked third on its final list of international skaters.
"He is a really skilled two-way forward with great moves with the puck," said NHL director of European scouting Goran Stubb. "He shows very good attitude, works hard both ways, smooth hands, very effective in the offensive zone as he can both shoot and create scoring chances for linemates."
Video: Altitude profiles Lias Andersson
It is no surprise that the 18-year-old has talent. He is the third generation in his family to be a professional hockey player.
"I was born with hockey," Andersson told NHL.com. "From the first day when I stepped on the ice I enjoyed it."
His father, Niklas Andersson (currently a scout for the Los Angeles Kings), was a fourth-round pick for the Quebec Nordiques in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play three games with Quebec before splitting the rest of his NHL career between the New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames. He finished his professional career back in Sweden playing 10 seasons with Frölunda HC. His uncle, Mikael Andersson, played a total of 15 NHL seasons with five different clubs: Buffalo Sabres, Hartford Whalers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders.
Also, Andersson's grandfather, Ronny, played pro hockey in Sweden in the 1960's and 70's.
From first getting a call in the HV71 system when he was 15 years old to playing for Sweden's national teams, Andersson has always worked hard to make an impact on the ice and become a better player.
"I try to work on my footwork and my speed and my conditioning," he stated to NHL.com. "I've been working so much on my legs and core training so I can protect the puck well so they don't just take me down."
That hard work has paid off so far, and he recently signed a two-year contract to play with Frölunda HC next season. Despite that fact, he can still come play in the NHL in the near future and compete in the North American game like his father and uncle did.
Hockey might be a family affair for Lias Andersson, but he is ready to make his own mark.