Vancouver Canucks: exploring possible linemates for Elias Pettersson

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Elias Pettersson, fifth overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Elias Pettersson, fifth overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks, poses for a portrait during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The 2018-19 season will likely be another year full of highs and lows, one of the biggest additions will be Elias Pettersson. After ripping up the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), it’s time to take his talents to the NHL. A big question for me is where does he fit in the Canucks lineup and who will he be playing with? I’m going to explore some options and would love to read yours in the comments as well.

First off I want to say that things could change throughout free agency or from off season trades as General Manager Jim Benning (GMJB) could take a run at a guy like Tyler Bozak, Riley Nash, Jay Beagle, Thomas Vanek or some reclamation project that tickles his fancy such as a Anthony Duclair or Nail Yakupov. But believe me, that is a whole other article that I really don’t want to get into right now or ever.

I really don’t.

This is a positive article! I want to think about all the good that Elias Pettersson can bring to this team and where he could fit in the lineup to be an instant contributor. After being the best player on the best team in the SHL it’s key that he is given all the opportunity in the world to play an offensive game and let his high skill shine. So these potential lines are going to be using current player that are signed or are current restricted free agents with the team that are expected to sign soon.


Might as well get it out of the way right? Pettersson could likely play the left wing even though he played a majority of his last season at right wing. I know it is a different game switching over to the left side but for the chance to play with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, I think he won’t mind the change.

This line would be everything for me, the bull of a centre in Horvat, the skilled European with great vision in Pettersson and the American sniper in Boeser. I’m pretty confident we will see a combination of these guys on the powerplay together as Pettersson seems to thrive on the right point at the SHL and World Junior Championships.

As for a five on five line, it’s a good start for Pettersson, probably the best start he could ask for. He would hop into a first line role in his rookie season, but doing this will come with some downside. Pettersson would have to play against the best defencemen in the world. That could definitely make it tough after playing against weaker defenders in the SHL and having more ice to work with over in Sweden.

All in all, it’s a pipe dream with upside and a lot of moving parts. Switching to left wing is a tough thing to ask for a guy who is already transitioning from another league and moving to a different ice surface with better players. I see Pettersson playing with Horvat and Boeser next season, but I see it more likely on the first powerplay unit.


A second line of Loui Eriksson, Sam Gagner and Pettersson doesn’t sound too horrible right? Though Eriksson has not lived up to his contract (I don’t want to talk about it), he does play a solid two way game. Maybe this old Swede just needs a little burst of young talent to get his scoring ways back on track. Gagner is no second line centre on a winning team but his passing ability could be beneficial for Pettersson who can shoot.

The question is can these older guys gel with the young stud? Pettersson has such a high hockey IQ and the good thing is that Gagner and Eriksson are not usually bashed about that part of their game. I don’t hate this line. The idea of Pettersson playing with Eriksson on a second line isn’t terrible. Even though I said I didn’t want to include free agents in this article, a free agent top six centre would really help Pettersson a lot more than a Sam Gagner would.

This line actually has a high chance of happening if you ask me, putting a couple of Swedes together with a centre who also can pass the puck is a safe decision but as you’re about to see with my next line, it’s not as fun.


Some people just want to watch to world burn, throwing these three youngsters out there together could be for those people. Brendan Leipsic impressed a lot of people down the stretch, he showed an abundance of skill and scored a few nice goals down the stretch for the Canucks after they picked him up at the deadline last season.

Centering this line would be Adam Gaudette. The young Hobey Baker winner has not proven much at the professional level but head coach Travis Green has said he was impressed with Gaudette at the end of the season. Green is also a big fan of Leipsic, calling him “One of the best players he saw in the AHL” back when he was coaching for the Utica Comets.

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This line has potential, that’s for sure. However, potential doesn’t guarantee production in the NHL, that’s why they call it potential I guess. Leipsic and Gaudette bring skill, complimenting Pettersson’s strengths. It seems like a good fit but they are all so young and unproven in the NHL that it scares me a bit. Although, they would not have to be matched against the top defensive pairing. Facing lesser defencemen will make life a lot easier. But if you are a fan of playing the kids you could be a big fan of watching this line fly around together.



Just no.

Please hockey gods, no.

Pettersson should be nowhere near Brandon Sutter ever. Markus Granlund could get some time with Pettersson but maybe in a combination of the other lines I mentioned, Granlund has some skill and if he can stay healthy he also has a pretty decent shot to boot.

But if Sutter plays with Pettersson, I’m done.


Who will walk with Elias?

All in all, whoever Travis Green decides to play with Pettersson will need to be able to put the puck in the net and skate with the young phenom. Guys like Eriksson, Leipsic, Gagner and Granlund posses some of these skills but for the most part not enough to be long-term linemates for Pettersson. He will be a difference maker instantly on the powerplay and I think that’s where he will do a ton of damage with Brock Boeser across from him.

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Travis Green makes the final decision. Some have floated that Pettersson could be playing centre next year. I get that that is a possibility but I truly believe his first year in the NHL should be taken similarly to his first season in the SHL. Play him on the wing and maybe in later parts of the season if things are working out for him as an NHL player he could get an opportunity to play centre with a couple of more talented wingers. Aside form Horvat, there are few centres that can play with Pettersson. But that wouldn’t be easing him, would it?