Two promising Canucks prospects will hit the ice for their first-ever taste of NHL preseason hockey tonight at Rogers Arena.
Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen, former linemates in Sweden and representatives of hope in Vancouver, are in the lineup.
Matching up against the Edmonton Oilers, they won’t be on the same line tonight, but they are being put in positions to succeed.
Lots of vets in morning skate, but Pettersson & Dahlen are on the ice also. Forwards & Defense for @Canucks:
— Joey Kenward (@kenwardskorner) September 18, 2018
Playing on a line with Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin, Pettersson has firepower on his wings. It’s the 19-year-old’s first test at centre – the position he was drafted to play but seldom saw in Sweden last season.
The MVP of the Swedish Hockey League last year, Pettersson has already proven he can succeed against men. The next step is to prove he can do it at centre, against bigger and better competition, on a smaller ice surface.
“The ice is smaller, the speed is quicker, more physical play, and you have less time with the puck, so you need to be aware on the ice,” Pettersson told reporters after practice.
Pettersson is also being put in a position to succeed on the power play – a place he is expected to thrive right away – lining up on the first unit with Baertschi, Goldobin, Bo Horvat, and Ben Hutton at the game-day skate.
Like Brock Boeser last year, Pettersson is considered by many to be a Rookie of the Year candidate. If he manages to score a goal like this against the Oilers, the hype train will be out of control:
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 17, 2018
Also making his NHL preseason debut is Dahlen, the player acquired in the Alex Burrows trade in 2017. The 20-year-old left winger showed well at prospects camp, and is a dark horse candidate to earn a spot in the opening night lineup. It appears he’s going to be given every opportunity to make that a reality, starting on a line with Horvat and Loui Eriksson.
“You have to think a lot faster and play a lot faster,” Dahlen said of the North American game. “You’ve got to work hard and think fast.”
Named MVP of the second-tier pro league in Sweden, Dahlen got a taste of the North American game late last season, appearing in six games with the Utica Comets.