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Scouting the 2017 NHL Draft: Tampa Bay doesn’t need Lias Andersson (but he’s good)

A projected mid-first-round center, Andersson is a talented do-it-all forward who may become a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer.

Sweden v Canada: Semifinal - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The son of former NHL journeyman Niklas Andersson (who is a current amateur scout for the Los Angeles Kings), the young Lias Andersson hopes to be drafted in the first round of the upcoming NHL draft. Andersson has been lauded by scouts for his skating, two-way play, hockey IQ, and determination on the ice. Currently, Andersson is projected to be drafted between spots 15-20 which is right in the area where the Tampa Bay Lightning will be selecting; however, whether or not they select the talented Swede remains to be seen.

Andersson recently finished his second season with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He produced 19 points (9G+10A) in 42 regular season games and followed that up with 5 points (4G+1A) in 16 games to assist SV71 in winning the SHL championship. These numbers aren’t overly impressive, but we must take into account that Andersson was being used as a third liner with an average ice-time of 13:19 minutes. He was also playing meaningful minutes on the penalty-kill. Given his age and usage, Andersson has impressed many with his two-way play and tenacity.

Projected as a second-line player, Andersson provides qualities that any team in the NHL would want: speed, determination, high hockey IQ, defensively responsible, and a deceptive wrist shot. Andersson doesn’t have the offensive flash that other prospects have, but his game in all three zones is something scouts have all been impressed by.

In an interview with The Hockey News in August 2016, Andersson said, “I try to work hard in the offensive and defensive zones and push the guys on the bench...I want to be a leader. I want to run the power play, play big minutes, make space for my teammates and score some goals.”

Unfortunately, as well-rounded a prospect as Andersson is, he does not fit the biggest need the Lightning requires; a puck-moving defensive prospect. It is still plausible that Andersson could be drafted by Tampa Bay, but with other defensive prospects also projected in the same drafting range as him, general manager Steve Yzerman might pass on the Swedish center in favor of a defenseman to help restock the cupboard.

If Tampa Bay does select Andersson in the first round, do not expect the Swedish center to make an immediate impact. He has decent size, but a little more bulk would not hurt him. Also, he still needs a year or two to refine his game before making an impact on an NHL level. Once he reaches the NH,L Andersson would most likely slot as a 3rd line center before progressing to the second line, while also getting time on the power-play and penalty kill. Though it is unlikely that he will be drafted to the Lightning, Andersson still forecasts to become a good NHL center.

Other scouting outlets have the following to say about Lias Andersson:

Future Considerations (November 2016):

“A smart, mature, two-way center…good decision-making, leadership qualities and advanced understanding of the game…a true three-zone player…defensively responsible…will drop to block shots or get his body in passing lanes…dangerous forechecker who reads the defense and uses an active stick to disrupt…covers up the ice for his teammates on the backcheck and always gives an honest effort…doesn't commit a lot of mistakes and plays a very calm game while in puck possession…has solid offensive instincts…protects the puck very well and uses all of his frame to hold opponents off the puck…possesses a nice, quick shot release…not a flashy puck handler, but can carry it up ice and distributes it well…goes to the net and plays in traffic…has solid vision and the ability to set up his linemates…has good balance and generates healthy amounts of speed…a potential two-way guy in the Zetterberg mold.”

Mike Morreale of NHL.com (January 2017):

“An excellent skater with speed and good first-step quickness. He's always on the move and can create scoring chances with his mobility, good hands, and grit. His father, Niklas Andersson, played 165 NHL games and now is an amateur scout in Europe for the Los Angeles Kings."

Craig Button - Director of TSN Scouting (September 2016):

“He’s quick, fast, determined and skilled and can play all three positions up front. A Swiss (or Swedish) Army knife-type player who’s very adaptable and coaches will love."

Lias Andersson Career Statistics

Season Team League GP G A TP PIM Playoffs GP G A TP PIM
Season Team League GP G A TP PIM Playoffs GP G A TP PIM
2012-2013 Kungälvs IK J18 2 J18 Div.2 - - - - -
Kungälvs IK J18 J18 Elit 23 4 1 5 2
2013-2014 Göteborg TV-Pucken 5 1 4 5 4
Kungälvs IK J18 2 J18 Div.2 3 4 4 8 2
Kungälvs IK J18 J18 Elit 32 18 19 37 76
Kungälvs IK J20 J20 Elit 1 0 0 0 0 Qualification 2 0 0 0 0
2014-2015 HV71 J18 J18 Elit 11 6 9 15 20
HV71 J18 J18 Allsvenskan 2 0 4 4 0 Playoffs 4 2 2 4 2
HV71 J20 SuperElit 25 6 3 9 16 Playoffs 6 0 2 2 0
Sweden U17 WHC-17 6 1 3 4 2
Sweden U17 (all) International-Jr 17 3 5 8 8
2015-2016 HV71 J18 J18 Elit 1 1 1 2 0
HV71 J18 J18 Allsvenskan 1 0 4 4 0
HV71 J20 SuperElit 37 24 35 59 91 Playoffs 1 2 0 2 2
HV71 SHL 22 0 0 0 6 Playoffs 4 0 0 0 0
Sweden U18 Hlinka Memorial 5 0 0 0 18
Sweden U18 WJC-18 7 5 4 9 8
Sweden U18 (all) International-Jr 21 10 7 17 32
2016-2017 HV71 J20 SuperElit 3 2 0 2 2
HV71 Champions HL 7 0 1 1 2
HV71 SHL 42 9 10 19 18 Playoffs 16 4 1 5 18
Sweden U20 WJC-20 7 3 0 3 6
Sweden U20 (all) International-Jr 17 6 9 15 14
Statistics from EliteProspects.com

Highlights