Elias Pettersson is the mobile defensive-defenceman the Canucks’ prospect pool craves: CanucksArmy prospect rankings #1
Photo credit:@orebrohockey IG
By Faber9 months ago
Yeah, yeah, yeah… get your Elias Pettersson jokes in now.
“Which one?” — “He seems pretty old to be at the World Juniors” — “Elias Pettersson is not a defenceman!”
Yes, it’s absolutely hilarious that the Canucks drafted Elias Pettersson in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft but Pettersson’s improvement in his draft plus one season is no laughing matter. The kid has been excellent since the Canucks shocked the hockey world when they made the 80th overall selection at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
EP2, D-Petey, or Re-Petey have been some of the nicknames that we’ve seen for new-Petey. And he’s a fan of all the nicknames. We caught up with Pettersson earlier this week and he said that he thinks all of the nicknames that he’s heard from Canucks fans are great.
“I think it’s just funny,” said Pettersson with a laugh when we asked about having the same name as the Canucks’ franchise player.
Since being drafted in July, it’s been a meteoric rise for Pettersson. He played well in some international U20 play during the summer and caught the eyes of the Swedish world junior coach, Magnus Hävelid.
Hävelid needed a defensive defenceman to round out his defence corps, and Pettersson became the man for the job. Pettersson said that he knew exactly what his role was going to be at the world juniors because of the conversations that he had with the Swedish coach.
“I knew my role in the team,” said Pettersson. “I knew that I was going to kill penalties and not be on the power play [but instead] try to be a solid five on five defenceman. That was what the coach told me before the tournament. It was fun to play as much as I did and I was not surprised because [Hävelid] told me that before the tournament.”
Pettersson was one of the four defenceman who were 18 or under on team Sweden at the most recent World Junior Championship and he will be relied upon to be a horse at next year’s tournament. He averaged just under 18 minutes a game over his seven games at the tournament and led Sweden in shorthanded ice time.
The WJC was a good boost of confidence for Pettersson but he was feeling confident going into the tournament because of his strong play in the SHL in the weeks prior to coming over for the U20 international competition. Pettersson set an SHL career-high in ice time three times in the two weeks prior to making the trip from Sweden to Canada. In his five SHL games before the WJC, Pettersson averaged 14:40 of ice time in the SHL.
That number may not make your mouth water but for an 18-year-old defenceman in the SHL, that is extremely rare and incredibly promising.
Pettersson has played in more SHL games this season than any other U19 defenceman. This is a list that features four defencemen who play in the SHL and were drafted ahead of Pettersson at the 2022 draft.
“Right now I feel like I’m playing on a really high level,” said Pettersson about his play in the SHL as an 18-year-old. “Before I went to the World Juniors, I played like five games over 15 minutes or something like that. And now, I feel like I have come back to that level and it feels really good now. We’re getting a bit being more roll here too. I think I have used my size more this season. Örebro told me that I need to be more aggressive and now they say that is one of the best things that I do out there. I’m trying to be aggressive and play hard while trying to be active in the offensive zone too.”
“I like the tough game but I’m not playing to search for hits,” said Pettersson when speaking about whether he enjoys the game’s physical side. “When hits come, I try to hit hard and I just try to be a solid defensive d-man. I want the goalie and all my teammates to feel trust in me and that they can trust me all over the ice. If someone touches our goalie, we need to stand up and do something.”
Now that we’ve got some background information about the kind of kid that Pettersson is and how his 2022-23 season has gone, let’s dive into the actual report on the prospect.
Elias Pettersson is a 6’3″, 196-pound left-shot defenceman who plays for Örebro in the SHL. He was drafted 80th overall (3rd Round) by the Canucks at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Through 32 SHL games, Pettersson has a goal and an assist. Through 14 J20 games, he has five goals and 10 assists. Pettersson finished the World Juniors with three assists in seven games but led all of Sweden in shorthanded ice time for the tournament.
From the tracking we’ve followed on Pettersson’s SHL play through 32 games, he controls 53.6% of expected goals when on the ice — a pretty impressive stat for an 18-year-old defenceman.
The first thing we liked during our viewings of Pettersson is his skating. For a guy his size, he is very fluid when skating backwards and does a good job of coming up the ice with momentum before making a decision on where to go with the puck. He is quick to get into the corners to chase down dump-ins and as he is skating, he is constantly evaluating the open ice around him and where he needs to go with the puck to get it out of his defensive zone as quickly as possible.
Pettersson’s skating stuck out at the Canucks’ development camp in the summer and even at the SHL level, he looks to be one of the better skating defencemen that we see during our viewings. On top of skating, Pettersson shines with his physical style of play. He’s not necessarily a player who chases hits but he loves to finish his checks when they come to him.
Right now, there is not really a knock in his game aside from his SHL production. When we spoke with Pettersson, he mentioned that this past year has been great for his development because he’s been able to work on his defensive game at the World Juniors, improve his offence in the J20 league, and then tie it all together and be a good all-around defenceman in the SHL.
We would like to see him continue to work on his skating because if he can develop into an even better skater, we are talking about a 6’3″ with strength and a mean streak who can skate — it’s a hell of a combination.
As much as you’d love to see the offence grow, there’s much to be said about having a defenceman who embraces the defensive side of the game and is able to thrive in a men’s league as an 18-year-old. We see flashes of offence in the J20 leagues that get us excited for what Pettersson is to do with more SHL ice time this season as well as next year.
Another thing that should be noted is that Pettersson is learning how to be a defenceman in Sweden, on the wider ice. Pettersson plays in the SHL where most rinks have an added 6.71 feet on both sides. It’s a 98.42-foot width in the SHL compared to an 85-foot-wide NHL rink. This added space forces you to be a good skater and we believe that Pettersson’s style of defending is only going to improve on the small ice. We saw an example of this at the most recent World Juniors. It looked like Pettersson was a man among boys sometimes in the tournament and this was another positive for the youngster.
He has such a strong base on some of the difficult skills that defenceman need to be successful in the NHL, and he is only building on his game.
It’s been an impressive season for the third-round pick and we are excited about his NHL potential.
Pettersson will likely be back in the SHL next season as a 19-year-old but it wouldn’t surprise us for that to be his last season in Europe. Our belief is that Pettersson may come to Canucks main camp in 2024-25 and will likely head to the AHL to begin his pro hockey career in North America.
After a season or so in the AHL, our expectation is that Pettersson is playing NHL games by the 2025-26 season but likely got a small taste of NHL action at some point during the 2024-25 season. This new management group seems to like to let their prospects marinate in the AHL, so maybe we see our first double Elias Pettersson in the lineup night at some point during the 2025-26 season.
That will make an interesting night for jerseys and we see it happening in the next two-to-three years.
With Pettersson at number one, this concludes our latest top-10 prospect ranking of the Canucks’ prospect pool.
We still have to evaluate where Aatu Räty fits in the rankings but decided to leave him at number zero. We will speak with Räty tonight out in Abbotsford and begin to form a true opinion on where he is as a prospect. He’s in the mix for the number one spot but we are very high on what Pettersson is doing at such a young age. It’s nice to be able to have an argument about top prospects, we haven’t had that for a couple years.
- Elias Pettersson
- Jonathan Lekkerimäki
- Arturs Silovs – G
- Danila Klimovich – RW
- Lucas Forsell – RW
- Aidan McDonough – LW
- Linus Karlsson – RW
- Filip Johansson – RD
- Jacob Truscott – LD
- Arshdeep Bains – LW
Honourable Mentions: Aku Koskenvuo, Joni Jurmo, Connor Lockhart, and Kirill Kudryavtsev.
Not on list: Aatu Räty
Not on list: Aatu Räty
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