The hype is real. Coming into this year, there were a few rookies who were projected to receive Calder votes in June: Andrei Svechnikov of Carolina and Rasmus Dahlin of Buffalo to name a few. But the guy who writers talked about the most was 2017 5th overall pick, Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks.
At the 2017 draft, many pegged Cody Glass to go to Vancouver at 5. The writing seemed to be on the wall for the Canucks to take a guy from the WHL who plays in nearby Portland. But the last time the Canucks took a guy from the WHL over a European, it didn’t work out so well. See the 2014 NHL Draft where the Canucks took BC boy Jake Virtanen over Nikolaj Ehlers and William Nylander…. Hasn’t exactly worked out. But in 2017 the Canucks took Swedish Centremen Elias Pettersson. At the time it was the Nolan vs Nico draft, now that it’s a year later there is rumours that another team had Pettersson ranked 1 (may have been the Rangers).
In the 2017-18 season Pettersson played with Vaxjo and was named SHL Rookie and Forward of the year. He finished with 56 points in 44 games. Difficult for Canucks fans to follow the Swedish league but Pettersson did not disappoint at the World Juniors where he had 7 points in 7 games and did not throw his medal over the glass (@liasandersson). Pettersson finished the year at the World Championships where he added another 3 points in 5 games to go with a Gold Medal.
The pressure at the start of this season in Vancouver was over the top. Henrik and Daniel Sedin retired, the Canucks were projected to finish last and people were looking for a new star to latch onto…. Enter Elias Pettersson. In his first game he riffled a shot over the glove of Mike Smith for his first NHL goal, he followed that up with a 3-point performance the next night and people in Vancouver were going crazy for the young Swede.
On October 13th Pettersson scored again against Florida but then got body slammed by Mike Matheson and was concussed. He only missed 2 weeks and just 1 game after returning, Pettersson had 2 goals against Minnesota and then a 5-point night against Colorado in his last game, including this Sedin-esque pass to Brock Boeser.
Pettersson currently sits with 15 points in 9 games on a surprising Canucks team that is 9-6. Believe the hype Canucks fans, you got your guy.
(JONATHAN HAYWARD /THE CANADIAN PRESS)