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Prospect Profiles: 5 European Skaters to Know

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

With the 2017 NHL Draft right around the corner, we here at FloridaPanthers.com have decided to help out Cats fans by making a quick list of draft-eligible prospects worth getting to know in the days leading up to the draft's first round at the United Center in Chicago on June 23.

1. Lias Andersson

Date of Birth: Oct. 13, 1998

Place of Birth: Smögen, Sweden

Ht: 5'11'' Wt: 198 lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: C/LW

Team: HV71 (SHL)

At 18 years old, Andersson is already a professional.

A mature, two-way center, the talented forward tallied 19 points (9-10-19) in 42 games this past season while playing for HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League, the highest men's league in the country. He also added four goals and an assist in 16 playoff games during his team's championship run.

A high-energy player with a motor that just doesn't quit, Andersson has proven himself to be an effective player in all three zones. He's not afraid to use his 5-foot-11, 198-pound frame to fight for loose pucks and places a strong emphasis on matching his offensive output with solid backchecking on defense.

The son of former NHL-er Niklas Andersson, the Smögen, Sweden native recently starred on the international level, helping Team Sweden bring home a silver medal at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championships by putting up nine points (5-4-9) in seven games.

Pre-Draft Ranking

Ranked #3 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

2. Elias Petersson

Date of Birth: Nov. 12, 1998

Place of Birth: Sundsvall, Sweden

Ht: 6'2'' Wt: 165 lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: C/LW

Team: Timrå IK (Allsvenskan)

Petersson is as smart as he is skilled.

With an off-the-charts hockey IQ, the left-handed Swede has very good offensive instincts and is always making smart plays with the puck. His vision on the ice is exceptional, which allows him to both find open teammates and get open himself.

At 18, he spent the entire 2016-17 season in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second-best circuit. He finished second on Timrå IK in scoring with 41 points (19-22-41) in 43 games, trailing only 2016 second-round pick Jonathan Dahlen in that category.

Standing 6-foot-2 and 165-pounds, Petersson will need to pack on some more muscle in the coming years in order for his physicality to catch up to the rest of his game. In the mean time, however, his agility and craftiness with the puck are enough to entice any team in the draft's first round.

Pre-Draft Ranking

Ranked #2 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

3. Klim Kostin

Date of Birth: May 5, 1999

Place of Birth: Penza, Russia

Ht: 6'3'' Wt: 196 lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: RW

Team: Dynamo Moskva (KHL) / Dynamo Balashikha (VHL)

Even an injury couldn't keep Kostin from picking up steam heading into the draft.

With an amazing blend of size and skill - he stands 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds - Kostin is considered by analysts and experts to be one of the draft's premier playmakers. A gifted power forward with a wide assortment of weapons at his disposal, the left-handed Russian exudes the type of raw talent that any team would love to have the opportunity to mold.

This past season, the 18-year-old skated in a total of 17 games split between Dynamo Moscow of the KHL and Dynamo Balashikha of the VHL, Russia's second division. In limited ice time, Kostin tallied just one goal in nine games for Balashikha before suffering a season-ending injury.

At the 2016 Super Series with the Russian Selects under-20 team, Kostin tallied two points (1-1-2) in five games while playing against All-Star squads from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL.

In the end, despite a few hiccups during his draft year, scouts clearly haven't soured on Kostin, as evidence by his place atop NHL Central Scouting's final pre-draft rankings for European skaters.

Pre-Draft Ranking

Ranked #1 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

4. Tomothy Liljegren

Date of Birth: April 30, 1999

Place of Birth: Kristianstad, SWE

Ht: 6'0'' Wt: 192 lbs

Shoots: Right

Position: Defense

Team: Rögle BK (SHL)

A puck-moving defenseman, Liljegren has a huge presence on offense.

With strong skating and agility, the 18-year-old rearguard is exceptional when it comes to starting the rush for his team, whether it's through taking the puck end-to-end or connecting with a teammate on a breakout pass. He has a booming shot and is a proven threat to score both at even strength and on the power play.

A smooth skater with an amazing ability to navigate the blue line, Liljegren was initially considered a can't miss, top-5 pick in this year's draft before an illness caused him to miss the first two months of the season. After returning to the ice, he tallied just five points (1-4-5) in 19 games for Rögle BK of the SHL.

Still, a strong performance at the NHL Combine, coupled with a very high ceiling, should ensure that right-handed blue liner won't wait too long to hear his named called on draft day. According to Sportsnet, of all of the projected first-round picks to participate in the combine's Wingate Cycle Ergometer test, which is used to judge a player's endurance, Liljegren was the only one to finish in the top 25.

Liljegren models his game after Ottawa Senators superstar Erik Karlsson.

Pre-Draft Ranking

Ranked #6 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

5. Martin Necas

Date of Birth: Jan. 15, 1999

Place of Birth: Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic

Ht: 6'1'' Wt: 168 lbs

Shoots: Right

Position: Center

Team: HC Kometa Brno (Czech Extraliga)

Like Lias Andersson, Necas has proved his worth playing among men.

The 18-year-old enters the draft after an impressive 2016-17 season in the Czech Republic's top league, posting 15 points (7-8-15) in 41 games before adding another four goals in ten playoff games to help HC Kometa Brno win its league championship.

Internationally, the right-handed center represented Czech Republic at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, recording three points (1-2-3) in five games. He also picked up three points (0-3-3) at the 2017 IIHF World U18 Championship.

With the type of tools that make you take notice, Necas belies his smallish size - he stands 6-foot-1 and 168 pounds - with high energy and great speed. Unlike other forwards on our list, however, he's most comfortable playing center rather than wing.

Pre-Draft Ranking

Ranked #5 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

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