Vancouver, you have permission to be excited about Elias Pettersson.
Drafted fifth overall by GM Jim Benning in 2017, Pettersson followed it up with a spectacular season for the ages in the Swedish Hockey League. And if he keeps this up, he’ll have a season for the ages in the NHL too.
Though his career is just 10 games old, the 19-year-old has been absolutely spectacular. He’s one of just five players in the last 100 years to score 10 goals in his first 10 NHL games.
Here are 10 of his accomplishments so far:
1. He has Canucks fans excited to watch games again
— Clay Imoo (@CanuckClay) November 6, 2018
Forget being the worst team in the National Hockey League over the past three seasons, the thing that was really getting Canucks fans down in the dumps was a lack of hope for the future.
Brock Boeser helped change that narrative last season, but Pettersson has taken it to another level.
The Canucks haven’t had a player this electrifying since Pavel Bure, and Pettersson may be better. Every goal he scores has fans dreaming of how great he might become.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) November 7, 2018
Prior to his arrival, getting fans genuinely excited to watch this team was a challenge. In that respect, Pettersson is a game changer.
2. He has Eastern media excited to watch Canucks games again
It’s not just people in Vancouver that are gushing over Pettersson.
He’s been getting a significant amount of press by the major sports news outlets based in the other side of the continent, meaning everyone is paying attention.
Even Deadspin is writing about him!
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) November 7, 2018
.@reporterchris – "The Canucks to me now are a team that, when they are on, you have to watch them. I don't know anyone would have forecasted that at the start of the season. I don't think it's lucky, Pettersson has shown any concerns about his size are moot."
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 5, 2018
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 2, 2018
So the Calder race is over. #Pettersson.
— James Duthie (@tsnjamesduthie) November 3, 2018
— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) November 7, 2018
5 points night Elias Pettersson woooooooooooooooooooooow!
Good Night ! Van wins in OT
— Marc Savard (@MSavvy91) November 3, 2018
— Kathryn Tappen (@KathrynTappen) November 7, 2018
Elias Pettersson is a joy to watch. Terrific young player. So smooth.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 30, 2018
3. An incredible pace
Pettersson is the youngest player to score 10 goals in his first 10 NHL games in the modern era.
— NHL (@NHL) November 7, 2018
With 10 goals and six assists for 16 points, he is eclipsing some rather big names in hockey history, when you compare how they fared in their first 10 games:
- Wayne Gretzky: 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points
- Mario Lemieux: 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points
True, both Gretzky and Lemieux broke in as 18 year olds and Pettersson is 19, but they broke in during an era where scoring goals was much easier to do.
Even Teemu Selanne, who holds the rookie record for goals (76) and points (132), didn’t have a start like this:
- Teemu Selanne: 9 goals, 5 assists, 14 points
What about Pavel Bure?
- Pavel Bure: 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points
Yeah, not close.
4. He did the Sedin bank pass
Sedin to Sedin off the boards.
Pettersson to Boeser off the boards.
Deja vu! 😱 pic.twitter.com/FZThjF6XEd
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 3, 2018
5. Has people uttering the word “playoffs”
Before the start of this season, Canucks fans were focused on Jack Hughes and getting the first overall draft pick in June.
While many people are still thinking along those lines, some have begun dreaming of the possibility that the Canucks could sneak into the playoffs.
Yes, they’re uttering the p-word and not being laughed out of the room.
With a 9-6-1 record, they’re tied with Calgary and San Jose for first in the Pacific Division. They’ve done it despite an extremely difficult schedule and injuries throughout their lineup.
Is Pettersson good enough to drag this group into the playoffs? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.
- Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson recreates famous Gretzky goal (VIDEO)
- These 4 Canucks prospects are off to impressive starts in other leagues
- Henrik Sedin reacts to Elias Pettersson using his patented move
6. Gretzky comparisons
— RD (@BuckFoston_) November 7, 2018
He’s not Gretzky, but…
Shades of Gretzky? You decide. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/VMEOs8GZzJ
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 7, 2018
Ok no. He’s not Gretzky. That’s an impossible comparison for any player.
But Pettersson’s vision and skill are at an elite level. Just the mere mention of the Great One’s name in the same sentence as Pettersson is a huge compliment.
7. Datsyuk comparison
Ok, this one’s a bit more realistic.
Pavel Datsyuk’s nickname was the Magic Man, and certainly Pettersson has magic hands. Even Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill was open to the comparison.
— Dan Riccio (@DanRiccio650) September 19, 2018
Datsyuk won four Selke Trophies, and while nobody’s predicting that yet, Pettersson has proven himself to be defensively responsible.
By the way, Datsyuk’s first 10 games in the NHL looked like this:
- Pavel Datsyuk: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point
And he broke into the league at 21.
8. It’s been more than points
Pettersson leads the Canucks in goals and points, both at even strength and on the power play. But it’s about more than offensive production with him.
He’s playing centre, a difficult position for a young player, and succeeding.
His Corsi-For percentage is at 50.78, which is an indication that he’s far from a liability at five-on-five.
He blocks shots, steering away seven to rank fifth among Canucks forwards in blocked shots per game. He’s winning 46.2% of his faceoffs, which is amazing for a player of his age, size, and experience. That ranks him just behind Brandon Sutter and ahead of Jay Beagle.
9. He’s making other players around him better
Coming into this season, Nikolay Goldobin was a candidate to be shipped to Utica.
Instead, he’s found chemistry on a line with Pettersson and has seven points in 16 games.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 4, 2018
Six of Goldobin’s seven points have been earned on goals scored or assisted by Pettersson. During Pettersson’s six-game absence, Goldobin was held off the score sheet entirely.
Goldobin is the lucky recipient I’ve chosen to highlight, but anyone playing with Pettersson will be better off for it.
10. He’s confident AF
Nothing seems to bother Pettersson.
Only twice this season has he been left off the score sheet, and both times, he followed up the next game with two-goal efforts.
He was concussed and missed six games due to injury, but didn’t shy away from contact upon his return. He hasn’t been scared to hold onto the puck to make a play.
He’s still learning the English language, but isn’t timid in front of the media. Ask him about his size or question his toughness, and you’ll just piss him off.