Elias Pettersson’s comments shouldn’t scare Canucks fans

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
9 months ago
There was big news across the Canucks universe Wednesday morning when Elliotte Friedman released an interview with superstar Elias Pettersson. Friedman and Pettersson spent some time together on a boat cruise as the offseason NHL Europe media tour continued throughout the late summer months.
The most interesting part of the conversation had to do with Pettersson’s contract extension negotiations. The star forward is heading into the last season of his second NHL contract and his next deal will almost definitely be the largest in Canucks history by average annual value.
While Canucks fans would love to have Pettersson sign an extension ASAP and commit to a long future in Vancouver, his comments do not suggest that a resolution is coming soon.
“I’m not in a rush to sign. I mean I’ve got one more year left over there [in Vancouver], and I don’t want to rush into anything because I still don’t know myself if it’s going to be short-term or long-term, but it’s probably going to be my biggest contract so far so I don’t want to stress anything,” Pettersson told Friedman.
After recording 39 goals and 102 points last season, Pettersson has firmly entrenched himself in superstar territory.

The crucial start to the season 

One of the reasons that Pettersson put forward for why he doesn’t want to think about the contract at the moment is that he wants to focus on the start of next season.
“Yeah, that’s [getting prepared for a strong start] been the main goal. This summer I’m just trying to prepare myself as much as possible with training, trying to gain a little bit of weight, some muscle, and yeah, especially get off to a good start with the team,” Pettersson said.
In both of the last two seasons, the Canucks got off to very slow starts. They dug themselves into holes that they could never get out of, eventually costing their coach his job both times. This season, starting strong is clearly a priority on everyone in the organization’s mind.
Pettersson’s contract negotiations will be a huge distraction. There will be a ton of media chatter and it will be a massive story in the news. Him deciding to shun some of that attention and commit to focusing on hockey is not the worst thing in the world for the Canucks.
In the past, Pettersson has been heavily criticized for his off-ice actions after starting slow. His efforts to grow his brand beyond the ice and show some personality ended up backfiring as his slow start made him a target. If he were to embrace the contract negotiations and then start slowly, it would surely cause a similar media storm that could be another dark cloud over the team.
Pettersson seemingly likes playing in Vancouver. Management does have a responsibility to put a competent team around him, and as long as there are signs of progress, there is little reason to think that he would want to go elsewhere.

The three potential contract solutions

There are three main ways that this contract saga could finish: another short-term bridge contract, a long-term extension, or a one-year deal on the qualifying year. While the long-term would be preferable, the team’s salary cap situation and the fact that the cap is supposed to rise sharply over the next few years may make a short-term contract more likely.
The qualifying offer, or Pettersson pushing to get out a la Matthew Tkachuk, is the worst-case scenario for the Canucks. However, as mentioned above, Pettersson has never expressed displeasure with playing in Vancouver before. All he has said is that he wants to play for a competitive team, a very fair condition.
Pettersson’s comments to Friedman still don’t suggest that he would avoid signing a bridge deal at the minimum. All they signal is that Pettersson wants to see how the start of the season goes, both for him personally and to see how competitive the organization is.
If a big factor in Pettersson’s mind for the extension is the team showing it can be competitive, that is all the more reason for Canucks fans to be happy that the team’s best forward is focusing on his play on the ice.

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