Who will be the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks?
If you ask former head coach Bruce Boudreau, the answer is clear.
The 68-year-old former bench boss, who is currently working as an analyst for the NHL Network in the United States, had high praise for Elias Pettersson on Thursday.
Boudreau only coached Pettersson for parts of two seasons, but he saw the highs and lows for the Canucks’ top player. When Boudreau took over behind the bench partway through the 2021-22 season, Pettersson was a shell of his former self, with just 12 points (4-8-12) in 25 games.
Pettersson eventually turned his game around under Boudreau, finishing the year with 32 goals and 68 points — both career highs for him at that point. The 24-year-old All-Star has been even better this season, with 85 points (31-54-85) in 65 games.
Pettersson is already the team’s on-ice leader, and now wears an A on his jersey. Boudreau believes he’ll one day wear a C, as the Canucks’ future captain.
- You might also like:
- 9 Canucks draft picks that took forever to score their first NHL goal
“I think this guy’s fabulous, and I think he’s going to have 120 points — now maybe not this year, but in the future. He’s going to get that many points,” Boudreau said, speaking about Pettersson with host Jackie Redmond on the NHL Network.
“I would come and talk to him every game, and I’d say you gotta be the best today. I’m going to play you against this guy. And he’d say, ‘I want the challenge,’ cause he’s so competitive. He’s such a good player, that he would take anything that I say and want to show people how good he was. And he’s still young, and he’s just growing into [his own].
“I really believe that he’s the future captain of the Vancouver Canucks. I could see him grow from last year to this year, to even more as the season’s going on.”
"I really believe Elias Pettersson could be the future Captain of the Vancouver Canucks. I've seen him grow from last year to this year to even more as the seasons gone on…"
-Bruce Boudreau on Petterssons future in Vancouver@NHLNetwork #Canucks #NHL pic.twitter.com/2zJKOI3AZ0
— Jackie Redmond (@Jackie_Redmond) March 17, 2023
After the Canucks traded former captain Bo Horvat in late January, new head coach Rick Tocchet added Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to the team’s leadership group, by making them alternate captains.
The Canucks haven’t named a new captain since Horvat left and they don’t have to pick anyone to wear the C next season either.
Vancouver went without a captain for one season in 2018-19 after Henrik Sedin retired, and eight teams currently don’t have anyone wearing the C for their franchises.
But Tocchet sounds pleased with the progression of Pettersson and Hughes as leaders already, pointing out how the two usually mild-mannered stars have been speaking up.
“You’ve got to empower your leadership group,” Tocchet said after Tuesday’s win against the Dallas Stars. “I thought Quinn Hughes’ leadership has been through the roof the last six weeks. He’s vocal… Petey’s been very vocal, coming in the [coaches] office, you know, talking. I love that stuff. It’s their room, it’s not mine. You’ve got to give them the torch every once in a while.”