Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson was ranked as the league’s 16th best centre by NHL.com.
It’s easy to forget that the 2017 class wasn’t exactly regarded as one of the strongest. The top two picks, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, weren’t considered to be true franchise stars and No. 1 centres compared to the likes of Connor McDavid, Nate MacKinnon, etc.
Fast forward three and a half years later, and the future of the franchise is more than bright, thanks in large part to Pettersson’s rise to stardom.
Pettersson won the Calder Trophy in 2018-19 after tallying 28 goals and 66 points in 71 games. Last season, he recorded 27 goals and 66 points in 68 games, leading Vancouver to their first playoff berth in five years.
He carried that dominance over to the postseason, racking up seven goals and 18 assists in 17 playoff games. The Canucks advanced all the way to the Western Conference Semifinals, losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.
Pettersson has asserted himself as one of the league’s most dynamic and exciting players, and he’s only going to get better from here.
Ahead of the 2020-21 season, NHL Network shared their list of the top 20 centres in the league, and the 22-year-old placed 16th on the list.
Here’s what analyst Mike Johnson had to say about Pettersson:
“He’s just so shifty with the puck. He’s got great hand-eye, the stick skills…He is really gifted with the puck in tight spaces. Elias Pettersson is the No. 1 centermen the Canucks have been looking for for a really long time, and he’s going to be really good and on this list for a really long time.”
J.T. Miller is a prime example of the difference Pettersson can make. The former enjoyed a career year with 27 goals and a team-leading 72 points. Prior to joining the Canucks, Miller’s best season was a 58-point campaign in 2017-18.
Pettersson is entering the final season of his entry-level deal, so it won’t be long until he lands his first major contract, too.
In the meantime, Pettersson is gearing up for what could hopefully be his most dominant season yet as the Canucks try to build off a thrilling 2019-20 campaign.