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: HV 71 (SHL)
Sweden's J20 SuperElite Sordra scoring leader with 38 points (13+35) in 25 games in 2015-16, Lias Andersson graduated to the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17 to test his skills against his country's elite level competition.
The end-result was an impressive nine goals and 19 points in 42 games while earning 13:37 of work per game to finish as the second-most productive junior-aged player in the league, and then scoring another four goals and five points in 16 postseason contests to help HV 71 capture the SHL championship.
Andersson, who exudes a mature playing style with his commitment to the two-way checking game and very competent offensive ability, does the little things quite well in his 6-foot, 200-pound frame. He can lead the way by creating space for his linemates, separating the opposition from the puck and quickly transitioning from defense to offense.
Andersson's responsible two-way play earned key minutes on Sweden's entry for 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, recording three goals and a plus-2 rating in seven contests.
He may not be an elite offensive talent, but his fast hands and puck controls skills are severely underrated as evidenced by some highlight reel moves he has pulled off despite not scoring.
As a whole, Andersson's intelligence and determined play has the make-up of an important piece to the puzzle down the road for any team that selects him.
Andersson will lead by example and do what it takes to win - be it with upped physical play, sacrificing himself to block a shot or popping in a swift wrist shot for a timely goal.
He will move to Frolunda HC next season, where he will be under contract through 2018-19, setting the table for a North American entry following two more years of valuable SHL experience.
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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