Swedish twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, officially retired this past season. They are arguably two of the best players in Vancouver Canucks history. Yet, there is another Swedish player that could challenge them for that distinction. Elias Pettersson is a former first-round pick with an outstanding pedigree. He turned eyes in the hockey community during his amazing SHL season (playoff MVP and SHL champion) and during his performance at the World Junior Championships. His SHL playoff performance was so good this year that he was painted gold. During those playoffs, he put up 19 points in 13 games. Talk about impressive.
He would go onto win a World Championship Gold Medal during this year’s tournament. Further, he finished with 56 points in 46 games played in the SHL. He would also put up 7 points in 7 games at the World Junior Championship this past year. This is just the beginning. If Pettersson performs at the same rate as he did in the past season, he will make a big impact on the Canucks team very soon. Expect him to make a serious push for a roster spot this season.
One of the biggest strengths of Pettersson’s game is his all-around play. He can play consistently in all three zones as well as be very productive in all three zones. In the defensive zone, he can help get the puck out of the zone quickly. In the neutral zone, Pettersson gives the defense a passing option by being open. Lastly, in the offensive zone, he can create plays like no other player. The kid can do it all. Just look at this highlight tape. He certainly knows how to light up goalies in the SHL and its EIGHT minutes long.
This tape shows how good he can be in all three zones. But the one skill repeated the most throughout the video is his vision. To be able to lead the SHL with 56 points says a lot about his game. The SHL is a solid league and a league where a young kid can learn valuable experience playing against men. The way he can make plays and then pass the puck is eye-opening. He can see lanes even if they are closed.
Just look at this first play. He moves the puck down low and knows to cut toward the net. This is a classic give and go play. Many players know how to do this. It may be a common play, but it shows his true potential. As he gets the puck near the net, the two opposing defensemen try and swing at the puck while also trying to shut the lane down. Pettersson uses some crafty stickhandling to find the open lane and sends the puck back door for a goal. Only special players can make this type of play and it’s a pretty one.
When Pettersson was picked at fifth overall in the 2017 draft, you knew it was a smart pick. Vancouver has had unconventional drafts in the past, but so far, it looks like they have hit a home run with Pettersson. Personally, I would expect him to make the club next year. It doesn’t make sense to send him down to the AHL. He is too talented and had too good of a season in the SHL to be sent down. With the absence of the Sedin twins, there is a void in their top six forwards. Pettersson would fill the void and keep the Swedish presence in the city of Vancouver.