At the World Juniors in Buffalo, the hockey world saw why Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson is so highly regarded and talented.
The 19-year-old was selected fifth overall by the Canucks at last year’s entry draft, and has been tearing it up for the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League with a whopping 20 goals and 30 assists for 50 points in 40 games. His 1.25 PPG clip is the highest single-season total that any Laker has ever produced since the team made the jump to the SHL in 2011.
During Vaxjo’s 2-1 win over Obero on Thursday, Pettersson tallied one goal and one assist, and scored a ridiculous goal that pretty much went BarDown.
Reaching 50 points on the season is significant because Pettersson broke Peter Forsberg’s total of 48 from the 1992-93 season. He trails only Kent Nilsson for the junior-aged SHL record with 54 points. With four games to go on the season, it’s quite conceivable that the Canucks prospect could set the record, even though Nilsson only needed 36 games to do so.
As you can tell below, the points record in the league U20 players features former Canucks Markus Naslund and Thomas Gradin, as well as current players Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
In terms of overall production, Pettersson trails Frolunda’s Ryan Lasch for total points in the league by two. Lasch is injured, setting up the possibility that Pettersson could finish as the league’s top scorer. No other teenager has lead the league in points since Nilsson back in 1976.
What stands out the most when looking at Pettersson’s stats is that missed two weeks of games during his time at the World Juniors. He was the SHL's leader prior to joining his Swedish countrymates at the tournament.
Not to mention, his SHL peers are averaging about a minute or two more ice time than he is. That carries significant weight because Pettersson is making the best of his opportunities given that he only plays 16:16 minutes per game. He also has the second highest plus-minus in the league at 22, which is impressive since young and skilled players are prone to being on the ice with a ton of goals scored against them.
It’ll be interesting to track Pettersson’s progress and transition to North America next season, especially if the team wants him playing in the middle of the ice right away. Drafted as a centre, the Sundsvall, Sweden, product has spent a large portion of the season playing wing.
TSN's resident scout and GM Craig Button recently ranked Pettersson has his top prospect currently playing in the NHL.
He’s already produced more points than Nicklas Backstrom and Naslund at his age, meaning that Pettersson is on the path to NHL superstardom. Canucks fans, you got yourself a gem, and perhaps your future No. 1 centre to replace Henrik Sedin.