Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Position: Center/Left Wing
Team: Timra (SHL)
Poised and confident, Elias Pettersson displays a high level of sense for the game with excellent acceleration and fantastic puck control. He can dazzle in tight spaces, but the flashiness is a mere bonus as the overarching assessment of Pettersson's game reveals a tenacious, detail-oriented player that uses his teammates extremely well.
Another in the long line of late-1998 birth dates in the 2017 draft class, Pettersson seemingly does everything with great quickness and precision. He can skate through seams swiftly, process the action in front of him, and leverage his decision-making skills to make the correct play at a high rate of speed. Pettersson's extra gear with the net in range is a standout quality when comparing him to others in the draft class.
Pettersson lit Sweden's second-tier Allsvenskan league on fire this past season, potting 19 goals and 41 points in 43 games for Timra IK.
Much like linemate Jonathan Dahlen (VAN) a year ago, Pettersson hit a different level in the postseason with two goals and six points in three SHL qualification contests. The fact that he notched just one assist in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship should not be a deterrent come draft day.
Perhaps a decade ago, a player with a long, lanky frame greatly in need of muscle would slide due to his body type. That likely won't be the case this year as Pettersson's pure offensive weaponry is exactly what teams will look to dial up for the arms race moving forward.
Pettersson will move on to the SHL next season after signing a three-year contract with the Vaxjo Lakers HC. Strength development will be priority one for Pettersson as he gains valuable top-division experience prior to jumping to his NHL club.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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