Canucks fans need to be patient with Elias Pettersson

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 13: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on January 13, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 13: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on January 13, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Elias Pettersson isn’t meeting expectations with the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 23-year-old centre only has six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 36 games this season which obviously isn’t good enough. He was moved to the wing on a line with Bo Horvat and Conor Garland and Pettersson managed only one shot on goal on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite that, he did play a good game as he showed off glimpses of his playmaking skills as he created some good scoring chances for his teammates. He was also going to the net and trying to get a goal for himself including one on a partial breakaway but he ended up missing the net.

In his last ten games, Pettersson only has four points, two goals and two assists. He last registered an assist on December 30 when the Canucks played the Los Angeles Kings and the last scored a goal on December 14 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Pettersson has a decent shot and we have seen him snipe before but it looks different this season. He has a 5.5% shooting percentage this season at all strengths according to MoneyPuck. Last season it was at 10.5%, 11.3% in 2019-20 and 13.5% in his rookie season. The silver lining to this is that Pettersson’s percentage of shots on net this season is the highest in his four years so far. It is at 71.6% this year and 66.3% last season, 64.5% in 2019-20 and 71.5% in 2018-19.

Let’s take a look at Pettersson at his best.

As you can see above, Pettersson looks like he has more confidence in his shots. He also goes to the right areas for a scoring chance. It seems that Pettersson also attacked the puck carrier and often tried to take the puck away which is something we haven’t seen him do this season.

This version of Pettersson is sorely missed.

Don’t give up on Pettersson yet

If you have been listening to the Sportsnet 650 post-game shows or have been on social media, there has been an outcry of some fans calling for the Canucks to trade Pettersson. Some were even saying he should be a healthy scratch or be sent down to the AHL.

That is a ridiculous take. Why would the Canucks give a potential star when his value is low? Are teams going to want to give up assets for a struggling player that is making a little over seven million dollars per season? Definitely not. Even if the Canucks did trade him, he would blossom elsewhere which would be a bad look.

The Canucks have a talented player on them and it would be a terrible move to trade him. The “trade Pettersson” takes are probably coming out as frustration from Canucks fans which I totally get. It is frustrating to see a player that was ranked the 38th best player in the NHL by NHL Network, the 2019 rookie of the year, two-time All-Star struggle.

Pettersson has been lacking confidence and he needs all the encouragement he can get right now. His coach gave him some wholesome words of encouragement at their practice in Sunrise.

The wrist injury that he sustained last season could also be a factor but it also might not be. Pettersson said himself back in November that the wrist wasn’t bugging him.

Players at his age tend to struggle. Trevor Beggs of Daily Hive wrote a fantastic piece comparing Pettersson’s struggles to Colorado Avalanche star Nathan Mackinnon. When Mackinnon was in his fourth season, he only put up 16 goals and 37 assists for 53 points in 82 games. That was the year the Avalanche finished dead-last in the NHL with only 48 points. There was a lot of criticism of Mackinnon as well.

However, Mackinnon bounced back the following year with 39 goals and 58 assists for 97 points in just 74 games. Of course, Mackinnon broke into the league at 18 and was 21-22 during his fourth season. Mackinnon is also a much faster player than Pettersson and shoots the puck a lot more.

That being said, Pettersson will get back into form but it’s going to take some time. Will it be this season? Maybe but it will more likely happen next season. A full offseason to refocus and training will be beneficial but it would be nice if he comes back to form sooner rather than later.

Pettersson without a doubt has the potential to be a great hockey player in this league. This is a big bump in the road in his career and Canucks fans shouldn’t give up on him.

However. the only person who can fix Pettersson is Pettersson himself.

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