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Photo Credit: Canucks / Twitter

Elias Pettersson is NHL-ready – if he’s used the right way

Elias Pettersson had one heck of a season.

He had 56 points (24-32-56) in 44 regular-season games and added 19 points (10-9-19) in 13 playoff contests. He won the SHL championship with the Växjö Lakers. He won the league scoring title. He was named SHL Rookie of the Year, best forward, MVP, and playoff MVP. To top it all off, he helped the Tre Kronor to their second straight world championship victory.

And now, he is ready for the NHL – if he’s used the right way.

Standout skills

Of course, Pettersson is mostly known for his incredibly accurate shot. His technique is completely different from Brock Boeser’s, as Pettersson needs a long wind-up to perform a textbook wrist shot whereas Boeser does most of the work with his arms, giving him a much quicker release. But even though Pettersson shows his opponents what he’s about to do quite early, they seldom find a way to stop him, thanks to his incredible accuracy. He’s proven he can do this at every level, and there is little reason to believe he won’t be able to do it in the NHL.

Just like his wrist shot, Pettersson’s one-timers have created a lot of buzz among Canucks fans. At every level he plays at, Pettersson is the go-to guy on the power play. Positioned at the top of the right circle, he gets pass after pass, with his team hoping he can fire one home.

This was especially exciting to see when he played on a unit with NHL stars John Klingberg, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Gustav Nyqvist for Team Sweden. They are all known to have extremely dangerous shots from the blue line or the circles, yet it was Pettersson who was relied on to get shots at the net again and again.

With his known standout attributes out of the way, let’s get to an underrated aspect of his game: his playmaking.

Pettersson is known as a sniper, and looking at his stat line, it makes sense. However, he is an extremely talented playmaker with fantastic vision and creativity as well.

In the clip below, Pettersson gets the puck at the right circle, but an opponent jumps into his way too quickly for him to get a shot off. Instead, he fakes a shot, then fakes left and goes right into the open space. From there, he pulls the puck back behind his legs to avoid the defender in front of him for a pass to the front of the net.

Below is another example of Pettersson’s smarts and puck skills, which also illustrates what kind of respect he’s already getting from world-class opponents. When he gets the puck at the right circle, he moves toward the net and draws in two penalty-killers. With all four defenders’ eyes locked on him, he finds his teammate at the near post, delivers a perfect tape-to-tape saucer pass, and picks up the secondary assist on a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal.

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But here’s the problem a lot of people see: in all of the above clips, Pettersson uses the extra space of the European ice surface along with power-play situations to his advantage.

The public concern: even-strength production

It’s no secret: Pettersson excels with extra space. In 2017-18, 26 (9-17-26) of his 56 points came on the man advantage. But can he be effective at even strength at the NHL level?

If he plays in the NHL – and really, there appears to be no alternative – he will have to adjust to a smaller ice surface while playing against better opponents. To make matters worse, GM Jim Benning referenced Calder Trophy finalist Boeser when the club signed him – so the rookie will have to live up to sky-high expectations as well (as if Pettersson’s performance hadn’t done enough to shoot up expectations).

Having watched quite a lot of Växjö in the past season, along with Pettersson’s games at the world juniors and world championship, I must admit I’m not 100 percent sold on his ability to be a difference-maker for the Canucks at even strength either. This is not to say he never will be, but he might not be straight out of camp. There have simply been too many times when he disappeared completely, and only showed up on the power play.

That said, Pettersson has proven he has all the tools to produce at even strength as well.

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In the clip below, he chases after a loose puck, forwards it to his teammate behind the net, then shakes off his opponent with a quick turn before moving into the open space where he receives the puck again. Instead of putting a low-danger shot at the net under pressure, he then sees his teammate coming in at the far post and plays a perfect cross-crease pass to set up a goal.

This assist shows Pettersson can not only make plays with extra space, but also under pressure. Still, plays like this don’t happen frequently enough yet, and he certainly needs to continue working on his strength and his ability to make plays when there’s little room around him.

Another area where Pettersson excels is the use of his speed along with his quick set of hands – allowing him to score highlight-reel goals like this one at the 2018 world juniors:

More importantly, though, he has little issues doing similar things against professionals.

In the clip below, Pettersson uses his speed to get past the first back-checker, then dekes out the first defenceman, allowing him to drive to the net and get a shot off. He won’t go down the outside lane and then use his body to keep the puck away from opponents and drive to the net. However, his outstanding puck skill and elusiveness allow him to find ways to get to the net nevertheless.

So, why would he not be able to make an impact in Vancouver right away?

The real concern: proper usage

At this point, it is impossible to predict what Benning and head coach Travis Green have in mind for their No. 1 prospect. In the long term, they want him to become the Canucks’ top-line centre, there’s no doubt about that. But what’s realistic for the upcoming year?

On the one hand, the Canucks seem to have sky-high expectations for Pettersson, which appears to be an indication that he will get a chance to play high up the lineup very soon. But on the other hand, they even scratched Brock Boeser early last season and to this day nobody really knows what the point was there. Boeser did get to play on the top line for the majority of the year, but those first few weeks were curious nonetheless.

There are also the two extremes named Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, who had to move back and forth between the press box and fourth-line duty. The Canucks didn’t want to put too much pressure on them right away and also wanted Virtanen to spend a lot of time lifting weights and building up his frame, as he was supposed to become a big power forward. If they think Pettersson needs to put some muscle on his 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame – which he does –, who knows what they’ll do this time.

And then there’s some actual concern: Pettersson might not be ready to play centre.

The Lakers had him on the wing for most of the past season, but they did try him out at centre for a portion of the year. While he was fine offensively in that time – though he still didn’t stand out all that much at even strength – he struggled with his defensive assignments.

The defensive side of the game is perhaps the area Pettersson needs to improve in the most. While it’s fair to say an offensive player like him should focus on scoring goals, he should still have a certain level of reliability in the defensive zone. Plus, centres have much higher defensive responsibility than wingers.

In the clip below, Pettersson back-checks hard and interferes with the puck-carrier. However, he then takes an outside lane to get around him, and is slow to move toward the net. While this goal against certainly isn’t on him, it’s just one of many situations where I’d like to see a little more intensity on the defensive side of things.

Below is another example, and this time, I’d go as far as to say Pettersson could have defended the play. He comes in slowly as the last player on the back-check and neglects his check at the far post. The goal-scorer should have been covered by the Växjö defender who comes in too late with a stick sweep, but had Pettersson come back with more speed, he would have had a chance to get to the puck.

In one final clip, Pettersson covers well for his defender that rushes up the boards and turns the puck over. As a result, he is the first man back to defend the counter attack. However, as in the examples above, he lacks intensity on defence and simply hovers by his opponents and allows a shot on net – though he did angle him properly, making sure he couldn’t pull to the net first.

So, while Pettersson shows a lot of promise offensively, he still needs a lot of work on the defensive side of the game – especially if the Canucks want him to be a centre.

Outlook

If the Canucks agree that Pettersson isn’t ready for a centre role, they could start him on the wing. A few games at centre in the AHL probably wouldn’t hurt, but given the makeup of the Canucks’ roster, they desperately need a scoring forward like Pettersson, no matter if it’s on the wing or down the middle – so the AHL isn’t happening.

If they do let him play on the wing, however, the long-term outlook could be similar to what happened with fellow Swede William Nylander in Toronto. Like Pettersson, Nylander was drafted as a player who could potentially be a centre at the highest level, but spent most of his time on the wing. Now 22 years old after his third NHL season, he’s still a winger for the Maple Leafs and has played only a handful of games down the middle. Will he ever be a full-time centre? Who knows.

Still, the Canucks need scoring help and they need it now. The ideal scenario for Pettersson would be to get every opportunity to succeed, without putting too much pressure on him. In other words, he should get as much offensive time as possible, play in his usual right-boards spot on PP1, and play at least 15 minutes a night – on the wing. If things go well, they can try moving him to centre later on. If they don’t, they should consider giving him some centre time with the Utica Comets rather than giving him the Virtanen treatment.

With all that in mind, here’s how the forward lines could shake out:

Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson – Brandon Sutter – Elias Pettersson
Antoine Roussel – Sam Gagner – Jake Virtanen
Markus Granlund – Jay Beagle – Tim Schaller
Extras: Nikolay Goldobin, Brendan Leipsic

While most would agree that Nikolay Goldobin and Brendan Leipsic would be more exciting and more promising options than the likes of Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, and Tim Schaller, the Canucks didn’t sign any of these guys to big long-term deals to have them sitting in the press box. The Canucks lack high-end talent, yet have too many well-paid veterans to give their young players a decent chance.

Pettersson, Goldobin, Leipsic, and even Reid Boucher, Adam Gaudette and Jonathan Dahlen will be fighting for spots and some of them will without a doubt end up with the Comets. But as long as he’s used properly, Pettersson should not be one of them.



  • Killer Marmot

    I love the idea of Pettersson starting on Sutter’s line — just because Burke finds it so toxic.

    Perhaps Beichler and Burke could co-write an article debating the issue. Make it two falls out of three.

          • Killer Marmot

            I think that’s too conservative. The Canucks have some fine forward prospects, and it would be disheartening for them if even Pettersson could not break the lineup on opening day. In short, the Canucks need to reward achievement with opportunity.

          • Bud Poile

            Playing center in Utica -if that’s where the Canucks indeed want him playing in the future- isn’t an outrageous suggestion.
            He was lacking in Sweden defensively playing the wing.
            Translate that to the NHL.
            Teenagers that turn professional out of the gate are generally not disheartened,even if that means playing for their AHL clubs.
            Judicial development decisions helps prospects succeed.
            Hughes recently said he’d play in the AHL,Makar(#4 overall/2017 draft) is going back to university for his second year as he willingly states he’s not ready to play in the NHL.5’11.25″ 190 lbs. on draft day.
            https://www.milehighhockey.com/2018/4/2/17186170/cale-maker-going-back-to-umass-colorado-avalanche-prospects-ncaa-hockey

          • Janik Beichler

            I definitely agree that Pettersson should and probably will crack this lineup. But that’s an issue with the Canucks’ roster more than a compliment to Pettersson’s abilities. Yes, he’s NHL-ready if the goal is to just get him into the league. No, he’s not ready if the goal for him is to have him as the future No. 1 centre.

            As to Hughes, it’s more of the same. There should be absolutely no rush to get him in, and while he might be ready to play and it’d certainly be great to have him in Utica, there are too many veterans ahead of him, none of which are elite talents.

          • Killer Marmot

            Yes, he’s NHL-ready if the goal is to just get him into the league. No, he’s not ready if the goal for him is to have him as the future No. 1 centre.

            You’re saying that introducing him into the NHL now will slow or prevent him from developing into his full potential?

            I think he would benefit from the increased challenge of the NHL. It would expose his strengths and weaknesses, and show him where he needs to improve. The AHL probably wouldn’t do that.

          • speering major

            I think the Nylander comparisons don’t apply here

            1. The leafs are/were absolutely stacked down the middle
            2. Nylander isn’t the same caliber prospect Petterson is
            3. If Nylader gets dealt he may still work his way in to being a Center

            The leafs don’t even have a need for Nylander to play center. Its not like they stuck him on wing and he forgot to play the position and can’t develop as a regular center. Its a team absolutely stacked down the middle that needs offensive wingers to compliment them. The Canucks Need a true #1 center and also have a slot for a # 2 behind Horvat (who is not a #1 center on a contender)

          • Tedchinook

            My concern with Pettersson going to the AHL would be the risk of injury. I could see AHL lifers trying to make an name for themselves by taking runs at him. He might get injured in the run pf play in the NHL, but I think there’s lot less risk of a cheap shot.

          • Janik Beichler

            The AHL is, while professional, a development league for the NHL. It’s lesser competition with less pressure, which can present a good opportunity for European players to come over, get acclimated to life in North American hockey, and focus on their development. Even after the season Pettersson had, spending a few weeks or even a couple of months in Utica wouldn’t mean he failed. It would simply give him some time to work on his deficiencies and come into the NHL even stronger, and hopefully playing as a centre.

            Going from wing to centre is extremely difficult and it’s not something one can easily learn while playing wing. Pettersson can work on his defensive game, on his defensive awareness and making sure he knows where to be and what to do in the D-zone. But a winger’s responsibilities in the D-zone are completely different from a centre’s, and it’s incredibly difficult to learn to be a centre without actually getting to play as one.

            So why shouldn’t he just play centre in the NHL right away? Because he isn’t ready to do that and letting him fail at something he definitely has the potential for does not seem like the best way to go.

    • Killer Marmot

      The idea is to stockpile depth so that the Canucks can withstand the attrition that is sure to come. An unfortunate side effect is that most waiver-ineligible players start the season in Utica.

      But it’s not as bad as it looks. There will almost certainly be injuries, even before the season opener, and younger players will get their opportunities.

      • argoleas

        What if the season starts, and there are no injuries, and both Leip and Goldy show they are ready? What if Gaudette shows he’s actually better than a Gagner? Would Canucks waive Gagner in that circumstance? Benning seems to imply ‘yes.’ I would need to see it to believe it.

        Yes, lots of “ifs,” but that’s the nature of this discussion. I do not mind stockpiling depth (actually in favor of it), but that stockpiling involves somebody getting waived. It is almost certain that Gaunce will be waived, and he will clear. Leip? Maybe. Goldy? For sure not.

        • Killer Marmot

          If there are no injuries in training camp then Gaudette will get sent down, and possibly Schaller on a conditioning assignment — legitimate given that Schaller is recovering from surgery.

          Of the 14 who remain on the roster, I would imagine that the 12 best looking players start and the other 2 are assigned to the press box.

          It’s really no big deal. People are making too much of the so-called “log jam”. By February, such concerns will seem a little silly.

        • Powpow

          Schaller is expected to start on IR. No one needs to get waived. By the time he is back, someone else is likely injured. If Pettersson needs to be papered to the AHL to buy time to make a trade to free up room (in the unlikely event of full health in the Fall), then that’s not the end of the world.
          Likely a vet or 2 get moved out at the deadline to make room for ready prospects.

        • Cageyvet

          I hear you, and I’m choosing to believe that Gagner and Gaunce will be waived in a heartbeat. Gaunce is probably already destined for the waiver wire, and it’s because he just hasn’t shown enough to verify a regular spot with our increased depth. Gagner, MDZ, Schaller, any UFA signing should be let go without hesitation if it’s clear a kid has earned a spot. Dump them for late picks or waive them, who cares? Just don’t let players such as Goldy or Leipsic go to keep these guys around. We have the cap room to just park them if we have to.

          While I am a fan of the increased depth, as it becomes competition that the kids need to face. Very few rookies have flourished when gifted a position, particularly with overblown expectations. Fight for a job and learn to bust your ass to play in the league, I’m fine with this mentality, but I will agree it’s all for naught if they’re scared to move on from these stopgap signings the moment an actual asset is at risk of being lost, or having their development slowed.

          • argoleas

            And as of right now, I already see Goldy as an improvement on Gagner, and he has only one to go – up. If he shows that he is ready to take the next step (which IMO he already showed last spring), then it is a no-brainer how the team should deal with him.

            I look at Schaller as the intended upgrade on both Gaunce and Granlund. Beagle as the 4th LC that Canucks have not had in a while (plenty of arguments to be made that there are better choices, but that’s who Green and management wanted). And of course Roussel as the reincarnation of the Dorsett factor. All three moves I can get behind if they are intended as replacements to specific under-performing middle players, and not as a means of blocking prospect growth.

            Again, I will give them the benefit of doubt, and see how it plays at TC and PS. It may come to pass what Killer Marmot states above that everything will sort itself out at start of season, and that between Schaller’s recovery and inevitability of at least one more injury could help Canucks avoid any dicey waiver issues. If so, then the inevitability of a constant stream of injuries during the grind of the season will help to alleviate roster waiver issues and will allow Utica-based prospects like Gaudette and even Dahlin to get plenty of games in. But the key is what happens at the start of October.

        • Beer Can Boyd

          Waiving Gagner would be a great pr move for the team. He brings very little to the table. Even better would be to send him back to Tortorella for a draft pick.

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          “What if there are no injuries”?!?!? Bha ha ha ha that is absolutely priceless! This team is more predislosed to injuries that a fly is to a bug zapper the past 5yrs. It would be assinine to expect anything different from the ‘norm’ of the mythical unexplainable ‘west coast travel’ excuse which coincidentally ONLY seems to affect this team and none of the Cali teams…

    • Kneedroptalbot

      It’s called putting them in a position to develop and succeed. If a young player is not great in his own end or at back checking. Initially play him with your best faceoff center man and a shutdown player. Let him see some PP time for sure, but shelter him 5×5 for at least 20-30 games.

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        Dont you remember last year when Aquilini let Linden have a bit more leash allowing him to use the word finally….. 🙂 Linden is so cute when he tries…

        • DogBreath

          Last I heard, Aquilini owns the team and Linden works for him. That’s how the flow of information works. It happens this way in all well run organizations. Surprised by this? You shouldn’t be.

  • Young players will get their chance. Doing it this way takes some of the pressure off, but it also creates competition.
    Goldobin needs to play in the top six. Having him linger in the bottom six is a waste, so it’s sink or swim time for him. All the new signings don’t take up spots in the top six. They are there to provide a safe working environment for young guys to prove they belong in the top half. That’ where all the competition is, and it’s really that simple.

    • argoleas

      Goldy can play in the top nine. There’s no rule that states that a team can’t have 3 offensive lines. Pretty sure that’s how Pittsburgh won 2 cups.

      But the larger point is that Goldy needs to be put in a position to succeed, but he needs to show he can put himself there too. I want to see his attention to detail. He may start off with fewer EVTOI, but if he shows Green that he has learned the lessons of last year, and picks up from where he left off, he will earn more consistent ice time.

      Assuming the team has not already given up on him.

  • speering major

    Petterson absolutely should not start with Sutter. Sutter will still be taking on tough matchups and situations, even with the Beagle signing. This is not the situation to develop an undersized rookie. Sutter isn’t exactly creative either. This could be a pairing to experiment with later in the season though.

    Also sticking Gagner between JV and Rousel is a bad idea. Gagner needs to be with other skilled players and perhaps even on the wing. I think Gagner is the perfect linemate to start with Petterson. Gagner seemed to be motivated and have some jump with the Sedins. He also did well in Columbus in a sheltered offensive roll. Pettersons hype and skill might get Gagner going and they will both benefit from favorable deployment, especially to start the season.

    I really like giving JV a shot with Sutter and Eriksson. I think Sutter and JV play a strong north south game but lack creativity and finish. A smart guy like Eriksson can clean up some garbage around the net and distribute the puck. I think JV can drive the play with his strength and speed but he’s going to need help to convert. Ozone time and shot attempts are nice but I suspect he will need a guy like Eriksson to help translate that in to points. It’s a 2nd line on the Canucks but I think that could be a high end 3rd line around the league. Obviously some big if’s with JV and Lou though

    • Killer Marmot

      I prefer matching Pettersson with Sutter over Gagner.

      Sutter is no offensive genius, but he was more productive than Gagner at even strength last year (1.5 points per 60 minutes versus 1.2). His size and strength in front of opposition nets will open up space for Pettersson on the periphery. Sutter’s speed is better matched to Pettersson’s. And he might teach Pettersson something about defensive play in the NHL.

      • speering major

        Think about who Sutter matches up against and the minutes he plays. You really think it’s a good idea for Petterson to be out there against McDavid/Draisaitl, Thorton/Pavelski, Kopitar/Carter, The Jets/Predators/Blues top 6?

        Petterson should no start facing the other teams top 6. That’s where Sutter matches up, and as often as possible vs the top line. An undersized rookie coming from a Swedish league shouldn’t start in that situation. It’s way too much too soon. It’s not like they will have something resembling the predators blueline supporting him either.

        • argoleas

          This is ultimately why I’m not for Sutter being w/ Pettersson. If Green will want Beagle to do some or much of the hard matchups that Sutter did, that will still leave Sutter with some of that work, even if Green surrounds Sutter with more offensive players (maybe a Virtanen and/or Goldy). That would leave Pettersson in the most sheltered line, which IMO is the best way for him to get a taste playing in a smaller rink in the best league. Put him with Schaller and Eriksson to start with. One has size, grit, and speed, and the other has skill and defensive acumen.

          So perhaps the following lines (ignore the actual ranking of lines) to start the season:

          Baertschi – Horvat – Boeser
          Goldobin – Sutter – Virtanen
          Schaller – Pettersson – Eriksson
          Roussel – Beagle – Granlund

          Leipsic and Gagner as spares.

          Obviously, lines will change as chemistry grows or doesn’t, and injuries take their toll.

          • Bud Poile

            Beagle was brought in to shoulder Sutter’s defensive face-offs.
            That frees up Sutter offensively but he will still be going up against first and second NHL lines.
            Sutter moves up to help replace Henrik’s 495 offensive zone f/o’s while Beagle helps replace Sutter’s 606 defensive zone f/o’s.

          • Rodeobill

            I wonder if Sutter isn’t perhaps better than Beagle as a shutdown center, what happens then? Scary thought. TG figures the best way to win is to still use Sutter as the shut down guy, then how will the lines flesh out?

        • Killer Marmot

          For about the millionth time, the plan seems to be to make Beagle the shut-down centre next year. He’s the one that will likely be going head-to-head with McDavid, Crosby, et al.

          • speering major

            Do you realize how many teams in the west have a stacked top 6? EDM, LA, SJ, NSH, STL, WPG, etc. Beagle will likely be the go-to match up for the first line. They won’t always get it, and then the Sutter line will be plan b. Beagle can’t just monopolize a shut down roll and free up Sutter (who was the shut down match-up last season) to have favorable match ups and zone starts. Teams are way too deep. Having Petterson riding shotgun for that roll to start the season is a really bad idea. Let him succeed and challenge him with more responsibility after he has some success.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Gagner needs to be on another team. He is a liability as a centre and on the wing can only play in a sheltered offensive role which should only be available to the young players. He is in the way. I’d rather see Granlund Schaller or Gaunce play at third line centre. At least they are capable of having a positive +/-. Some seem to lose sight of the fact the objective is not just to score goals but to outscore the opposition. Something Gagner can’t do 5v5.

      Regardless of where Pettersson plays 5v5 he will and absolutely should get Henrik’s spot on the half wall on the PP. It’s too early to be sure but with Pettersson’s shot and elite passing he could make the powerplay even better than last year. The 2019 draft is loaded with centres and Gaudette could excel. Pettersson could become an elite winger and that’s okay.

      Gaudette’s development could prove very important. It is possible, maybe even likely he can be a 2nd line centre before Pettersson can play in the middle. If that happens Sutter can be moved.

      • argoleas

        The main point of bringing in Gagner was to be a PP specialist, which Green never really used him for (except on PP2, and not in the spot he was so successful in on the Columbus PP). And with the current personnel, I don’t really see him being in his best spot on the PP either. In the end, he is just being passed by everyone on this team for any role he can contribute in.

        But the real debate is what will Green and Benning do about it? Are they ready to waive him, if necessary? His contract is way too rich. Any trade would involve retaining 50% of is salary, but it may make more sense to retain those salary retentions for TDL since Canucks can do only 2 of those. They could also take some similar bad contract in return, but that would still require that assets being waived.

        This is what I will be looking at towards the start of the season.

        • DJ_44

          This goes back to the so-called, much misunderstood, “weaponizing of cap space” (as an aside, it would be nice for JD to actually define what he think weaponizing cap space means).

          Retain salary on useful pieces in a trade. Works great if they have one year left in their deal. In exchange get a mid-round pick back.

          None of the so-called “weaponized cap” trades have received more value than a 4th or 5th, and that does not include prospects going back the other way.

          I gotta say, taking on other teams bad contract seems to be the most inefficient way to get ahead. By going a salary retention route, you can get the benefit of a mid-rounder, not take on contract slots, and, above all, not bail out rival teams from their problems (the whole game-theory thing).

          • DJ_44

            Gagner will have more value than a 6th or 7th, however teams that would be interested in trading for Gagner may not have the cap flexibility to take $3.0M AAV. Put that at $1.5M and the market size increases.

  • DogBreath

    He’s got to be a winger in a top-6, maybe top offensive top 9. I think its a mistake to have him centre in the NHL right now when he hasn’t really played the position in 2 years (and certainly not against this level of competition). I’m also in favour of him doing a crash-course on centre in the AHL and bringing him up when he’s ready to go. Its a mistake to have him start at centre in today’s NHL.

    • Defenceman Factory

      I agree starting him at centre would be a mistake. Manny Malhotra is a great coach, Beagle a solid Mentor and Horvat a great teammate. There are great teachers in Vancouver. Let Pettersson grow into a centre. I have no desire to see Kopitar and Getzlaf slaughter the kid.

      • argoleas

        Also useful to recall that it’s not like they don’t have big men in the SHL that did not go after Pettersson. I’m not sure that challenge will be any different whether he is on the wing or in the middle.

        His biggest challenge will be playing on the smaller ice and needing to make quicker decisions, and adjust his toolset accordingly. Getting the most EV sheltered minutes (as a RW or C, whatever seems to work initially), along with lots of PP time (definitely in Henrik’s old spot) is the best way to start IMO, and then let him grow.

        Many people wondered how he would adjust last year to the bigger grind of the SHL. He obliterated even the most optimistic expectations, while getting the bulk of the opposition’s attention (correct me if I’m wrong here). Truth is, all of us do not really know what he will be capable of this season, and how quickly he will adjust. We all seem to try to find what we believe to be his safest place to start the season, yet we may find, once again, our expectations woefully obsolete.

  • canuckfan

    I think that he will be just fine on the smaller ice he is pretty good up close with no room at the net which likely means he is pretty fast thinking. He may be the player that finishes Jakes breaking to the net and not being able to finish but a good rebound is usually there if someone like Eli or Eriksson could pop it in could get Jake more points from his hard if he has finish next season then Jake will get a pile more goals and his linemates will get points by getting Jake the puck.

    • Beer Can Boyd

      Good call. the kid has exceeded expectations wherever he’s been, and there is no need to baby him now. Peterson between Virtanen and Eriksson would be my call. They ain’t winning anything this year anyways.

      • jaybird43

        Boyd, I like the sound of that line. A lot of speed and skill, and Eriksson is responsible defensively. Let it roll for 5 games and see what becomes of it …

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    Keep the kid as far away from Sutter as possible!! Why would you want to destroy his offensive abilities forcing him to play with a collosal offensive siv like Sutter?

    • DogBreath

      An argument can be made that despite being 2LC, Sutter could be the defensive conscience of an otherwise offensive line (think Morrison in that role for Naslund and Bertuzzi). Not that this line will replicate, but having EP on line with another creative player (Goldobin?) could create that kind of effect. Dare to dream ….

  • bhgal

    petterson should start at center and of course stay there… fantastic young options they have goldobin and virtanen #1 …. baertchi – petterson – erikson? …

  • TheRealPB

    As others have said I don’t think it’s about the particular deployment (PP vs 5 x 5) as who ends up playing center with him. I would think with a player like him it’s one of two options — either you put him with Horvat and Boeser (possibly Baertschi but then you’re putting Boeser in a sub-optimal situation), or you put him on a sheltered scoring line with Gagner/Granlund and Eriksson/Baertschi. (One of) the problem(s) for the Canucks is that they really only have one true offense/two-way center (Horvat) and everyone else is either a glorified defensive specialist (Sutter, Beagle, Schaller) or someone who has offensive ability but has either done better on the wing than C (Granlund, Gaunce) or has severe limitations (Gagner). I’ve gotten more and more on board with the idea of having a good sheltered fourth line of guys with real ability — Goldobin, Leipsic, Granlund, along with Pettersson. Of all the many guys thrown out on the Sedins’ wings post-Burrows, the two best in my book were Hansen and then Granlund; both had much better hockey sense than a Sutter. I’d thus consider having two skill guys playing off Pettersson and giving them 10-12 minutes a game to see what they can do. Let Sutter and Eriksson earn their money by getting demolished on a nightly basis (and Beagle too) and give the younger players a real chance to develop. If that happens, even if the team is as bad as is likely, this season won’t be a waste.

    • Bud Poile

      Eriksson has scored 26-36 goals 5X.
      He has racked up 63-73 total points 5X.
      His least offensively productive years have been in Vancouver .
      Eriksson is likely going to be Pettersson’s mentor and hopefully the one player that can teach him how to play sound,defensive hockey.
      This should coincide with lifting Eriksson out of the Canuck curse he’s been afflicted with since coming to this team.
      Putting Eriksson with Pettersson in a role that benefits both of them is ideal.
      Demolishing Eriksson further won’t help Pettersson any.

      • TheRealPB

        You may be right that I’m doing a disservice to Eriksson; he has certainly shown good two-way flair in the past. But he’s also someone who can be relied upon for heavier defensive lifting though perhaps Roussel is earmarked for that.