Canucks' Elias Pettersson is still winning awards in Sweden

Jan 22 2019, 6:44 pm

If you thought Elias Pettersson was done winning awards in Sweden, you thought wrong.

Before Pettersson became the Vancouver Canucks’ best player, he was a superstar in the Swedish Hockey League.

With 56 points in 44 games last season, Pettersson broke Kent Nilsson’s junior-aged scoring record that had stood since 1976, and was named MVP of the regular season and playoffs. His point totals in the regular season and playoffs (19 points in 13 games) also topped the entire league.

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Pettersson led Vaxjo to the SHL championship, won a silver medal with Team Sweden at the World Juniors, and won a gold medal as part of his country’s World Championship team.

After the season, he was named the “best young player” in all of Europe.

And on Monday, Pettersson won another award, being named Rookie of the Year at the Swedish Sports Awards in Stockholm. This was a non-sport-specific award, meaning Pettersson competed against all Swedish athlete newcomers for the trophy.

Pettersson beat out X Games gold medallist Jennie-Lee Burmansson (freestyle skier), middle-distance runner Andreas Kramer (athletics, 800 m), and kickboxer Josefine Lindgren Knutsson.

“He is not only a fantastic player but also a fantastic person,” said Swedish national team coach Rikard Gronborg (translated from Swedish), who accepted the award on Pettersson’s behalf.

Pettersson, who obviously was unable to accept the award in person, took to Twitter to share his appreciation.

“Incredibly honoured to win this year’s newcomer at the sports gala,” said Pettersson (translated). “Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, especially my family, without you, none of this had been possible!”

While fans in Vancouver have been comparing Pettersson to Pavel Datsyuk and Wayne Gretzky, the comparison dominating headlines in Sweden at the moment is with fellow Swede Peter Forsberg. Pettersson has 44 points in 39 games to start his career, the same number that Forsberg had to begin his rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques in 1994-95.

It’s still very early in his career, but don’t expect the comparisons to stop anytime soon. He has the potential to be among the best Swedish hockey players of all-time, as well as one of the top Canucks players ever.

Having already been named the Rookie of the Month in October and December, Pettersson seems like a shoo-in for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, if he stays healthy. At just 20 years old, Pettersson will be the Canucks’ lone representative at the NHL All-Star Game this weekend.