Believe it or not, the Vancouver Canucks greatly exceeded expectations this year. That was mostly thanks to the emergence of Elias Pettersson. For our last season takeaway, let’s look at how Pettersson has become the face of the franchise.
When Elias Pettersson was drafted at fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he was compared to Paul Stastny. His potential was listed as a second line center. No one, including the majority of Canucks fans, knew what was in store for this kid.
Fast forward to opening night, and now the majority of people have been put on Pettersson watch after seeing the unbelievable things he did in the SHL with the Vaxjo Lakers, where he was named League MVP, Playoffs MVP, Forward of the Year, and Rookie of the Year.
On a line with Nikolay Goldobin and Loui Eriksson, Pettersson was noticeably special from his very first shift. He already had the confidence that some of the Canucks players who have been pros for years now still lack. He knew what he was capable of, we were just lucky to see him show it in a Canucks uniform.
He changed everything in Vancouver. He changed the dynamic of the team. The team, more than ever in the past five years, wanted to win for each other and wanted to play their hearts out for one another. That all starts with players who lead by example as Pettersson does. Through his amazing rookie season, where he broke the Canucks rookie point record, Pettersson has solidified himself as the new face of the franchise.
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
The Canucks were supposed to be out of the playoff race early in the season, and were supposed to be a serious contender to land Jack Hughes in the draft lottery sweepstakes. Instead, they were playing meaningful games right up until March, and were in the playoff conversation nearly all season.
After missing the playoffs, the Canucks will select at 10th overall, and as we already know, they will almost certainly be walking away with a very good player. General manager Jim Benning has talked about how this Summer, he wants to find a true top six forward, and find a solid defenceman to add to the group. To me, that doesn’t happen without Pettersson playing the way he did.
Without Pettersson having the year he did, the Canucks are gearing up for another bottom of the standings finish next year. But that’s not the case. Very few people are still on “Team Tank” heading into next season. The focus has shifted from tanking, to weaponizing cap space and building a good team around Pettersson and the rest of the Canucks young core. Where would this team be without Pettersson?
A very, very dark place that Canucks fans are all too familiar with — the bottom of the standings. Bo Horvat is still the future captain of this young and up and coming team, but Pettersson is hands down the new face of the Vancouver Canucks.