Here at The Canuck Way, we are recapping and grading every player’s season. Up next, rookie sensation and likely Calder Trophy winner, Elias Pettersson.
Fans weren’t forced to watch an ageing, slow and offensively-starved team. Rather, they got to watch the next franchise face take over with a dominant rookie season — one that saw him notch 28 goals and 66 points. Consider him a lock for the Calder Trophy.
Let’s take a look at his 2018-19 campaign, along with Pettersson’s season grade and our expectations for him next season.
Season Grade: A+
For formality’s sake, I tried to think of a complaint about Petterssons rookie year, but it just wasn’t happening. How many rookies in today’s NHL come anything close to a 28-goal and 66-point season? If Pettersson didn’t miss 11 games this year, he would have had 30-plus goals and 70-plus points.
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Per NHL.com, Pettersson’s 66 points are the 11th-most for a rookie in the post-lockout era. And again, he would have placed higher on that list if he didn’t miss those 11 games. Pettersson could have easily had 75-80. Perhaps more.
When Pettersson was on the ice, he dazzled in practically every aspect. He was a pure sniper. He was an elite playmaker.
He was a stud defensively. Pettersson simply took over games all on his own. Did we mention he’s a rookie?
He had a solid 51.4 Corsi For percentage and scored a whopping seven game-winning goals this season. And to think that once the Canucks find a better linemate to help him and Brock Boeser out, Pettersson will really take off.
Without Pettersson, the Canucks wouldn’t have stayed in the playoff race up until March. If Vancouver had reached the postseason, it’s not hard to think Pettersson could have garnered some Hart Trophy votes.
At the end of the day, the only grade to give Pettersson here is an A+. Everyone knew he’d make an impact in his rookie year, but to lead the team in scoring and perform like a true superstar already? Many of us simply didn’t expect “Petey” to be this good in his rookie year.
Expectations for next year
What can Pettersson do for an encore? Well, expectations are naturally going to be much higher heading into his sophomore year. That’s the way it is when you dominate like Pettersson as a rookie — and when you’re likely to win the Calder Trophy.
With Pettersson, it’s easy to envision him scoring at a point-per-game pace next season. Obviously, health will be the main factor. If the Canucks can supply him and Boeser with another reliable goal-scorer, the sky is the limit for Pettersson.
Who knows? Pettersson might full-on break out and score 100-something points next season, but for me, 80-90 points seems more likely here. He’s got plenty of time to add more muscle, refine his skills and get better over time.
2019-20 is going to be a special year in Vancouver. Fans can finally hold out realistic hopes for making the postseason. Their journey to the playoffs will begin and end with Pettersson next season. Get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. October can’t some soon enough.
*Stats via Hockey Reference*