Elias Pettersson has drawn awe from around the NHL with his stunning goals and mind-bending moves over the past two months, but those who’ve played alongside him say there’s likely more to come. Pettersson (40) celebrates his goal with teammate Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser (6) against the Minnesota Wild during third period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Canucks’ Elias Pettersson will only get ‘better and better’: former teammate

The Vancouver rookie has already notched 13 goals and eight assists in 20 games

Elias Pettersson has drawn awe from around the NHL with his stunning goals and mind-bending moves over the past two months, but those who’ve played alongside him say there’s likely more to come.

The Vancouver Canucks rookie has already notched 13 goals and eight assists in 20 games and earned comparisons to some of hockey’s greatest legends.

It’s hype that his current and former teammates say is warranted.

Andrew Calof played with Pettersson on the Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden last year and said everyone knew right away that the then-teen was a “special talent” with a insatiable work ethic.

“He’s a perfectionist. When he sets his mind to something he will accomplish it,” Calof, an Ottawa native, said in an email from Russia where he’s currently playing for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League.

READ MORE: Pettersson lifts Canucks to 4-2 win over Kings

Pettersson never stopped vying to grow as a player, constantly watching video and working after practices on shooting and passing, Calof said.

“He just would spend so much time trying to improve every aspect of his game and that’s what makes him such a fantastic player,” he said.

“And what’s scary is he will only get better and better.”

The Lakers captured the Swedish Hockey League championship. Pettersson — who led the entire league in scoring with 56 points — was dubbed the most valuable player and painted himself gold to match the golden helmet he received for the honour.

“He was the golden boy!” Calof said. “He was a huge part of that championship.”

Pettersson was also a lot of fun to play with, Calof said.

“Whoever was on his line knew they were going to get a couple of extra points that week because Elias would do something crazy and either give you an open net or score a shot that you’re think was impossible,” he said.

Now he’s making the same sort of moves on hockey’s biggest stage, deking out opponents, making jaw-dropping passes and rocketing pucks past stunned goalies.

The fifth-overall pick at the NHL’s 2017 draft was named the league’s rookie of the month for October, despite missing two weeks due to a concussion he suffered from a hit by Florida’s Mike Matheson on Oct. 13.

In early November, he became the youngest Canuck to ever put up a five-point game when he helped the Canucks squeeze out a 7-6 OT win over the Colorado Avalanche. The eye-popping performance led to the NHL’s second star of the week honour.

While he’s quickly become an offensive juggernaut for Vancouver, the 20-year-old centre is also showing his ability to be an all-around player, blocking shots and back-checking hard.

“His IQ on the ice is beyond mine and beyond our team’s, I think. It’s pretty funny,” said Canucks right-winger Jake Virtanen. “When you see him out there, he’s just thinking of stuff to do that no one else would really think of.”

READ MORE: Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

Various hockey analysts have compared aspects of the six-foot-two, 176-pound Swede’s game to some of hockey’s best, including Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Even his teammates see similarities to the greats.

“I see shades of (former Detroit Red Wing) Pavel Datsyuk and those type of players in him, just his hands, the way he moves out there,” said Canucks centre Bo Horvat.

“But I think he’s himself. I don’t think there’s any person in the league who’s like Elias Pettersson. He brings his own element to the game.”

Those elements already have the young athlete on a special level, Virtanen said.

“I think he’s possibly one of the best players in the NHL already,” he said. “He’s very fun to watch and obviously a treat to have on our team.”

It’s still early in Pettersson’s career to compare him to one specific player, Calof said.

“But he’s definitely the best player I’ve ever played with,” he added. “If he keeps this up, he could be the greatest hockey player to ever come out of Sweden. That’s certainly something I hope for.”

Wayne Gretzky recently spoke about Pettersson on a Vancouver radio station, saying he sees similarities in how they both play the game.

Pettersson said being mentioned alongside Gretzky is a great honour, though it’s one he isn’t entirely comfortable with.

“I don’t know if anyone should be compared to him because he’s the greatest ever,” said the rookie, who is described by teammates as quiet and humble off the ice.

Despite the parallels and the attention from around the league, Pettersson said he’s not feeling any extra pressure and is still having fun playing the game he loves.

“I’m living my dream,” he said.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From courthouse to council’s house

Old courthouse had long history before becoming City Hall

Revenue Canada, RCMP don’t accept Bitcoin: police

RCMP issue Bitcoin warning posters

Writer says Alberta highway system falling apart

Highways in ‘deplorable’ condition: writer

County council denies request for parking lot

Buck Lake groups are welcome to raise funds and return to council

UPDATE Two major hockey games coming to Falun outdoor rink

UPDATE AJFHL game on Jan. 18 cancelled due to extreme cold

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Metis nations ask Ottawa to negotiate directly with them, not national body

Three provincial Metis nations will work through the national council until after the federal government releases its 2020 budget

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sylvan Lake RCMP seek assistance in locating missing male

Mark Crier, 17, was last seen in Sylvan Lake on Jan. 13

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

Alberta says universities over-budget; need to freeze travel, hiring, hosting

Demetrios Nicolaides says spending is not meeting expectations

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Iran must compensate crash victims’ families, Canada-led group agrees

‘We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand,’ says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

Most Read