No. 1: RW Elias Pettersson (Vaxjo, SHL)
Elias Pettersson, the fifth-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, has not played down the middle at all for the SHL’s Vaxjo Lakers. Some, including myself, thought that would put a dent in the Canucks’ plans of replacing the current Swede playmaker, captain Henrik Sedin, with Pettersson.
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Although those concerns could turn out to haunt the Canucks later on, Pettersson is making everyone forget about the four players selected before him and the many highly-touted players the Canucks ignored to select him fifth overall.
Pettersson had three goals and three assists in the three games he played this week, including a three-point effort in just over 17 minutes of ice time.
Those three points have put Pettersson at 23 points in 18 SHL regular season games.
23 points, in other words, means that Pettersson is now tied with two others for the SHL lead in points.
Pettersson leads the scoring race because he has played one less game than the other two wingers, a 33-year-old Swede and a 30-year-old American.
Pettersson’s 1.28 points-per-game is the 55th-best all-time performance in the 40 years of SHL/SEL history.
Among under-20 performances, Pettersson’s current season only trails Kent Nilsson‘s 1.50 points-per-game that he set in forty years ago, in the very first year of the Swedish Elite League. It bests Peter Forsberg (1.23 ppg), Thomas Gradin (1.11), and for comparison’s sakes, William Nylander (0.95).
We are starting to see that Pettersson has a goal-scoring side to him that was underrated when playing in Timra IK with his friend Jonathan Dahlen. Pettersson’s left-handed slapper from the right circle is dominating the SHL on a regular basis. His commitment to defence has also been commendable.
With Pettersson in the conversation for a call to the Swedish Olympic squad (which makes total sense considering that all NHL players are not available and that Pettersson is leading the SHL in points), it won’t be long until Pettersson becomes the best NHL prospect not playing in the NHL yet.
Maybe that already has happened? At this point, if Pettersson can prove himself next year with a similar performance as a centreman, there is nothing stopping him from making the NHL two years from now.