The Vancouver Canucks are off to a flying start and are undefeated with a perfect 2-0-0 record. A very large part of their success so far has to be credited to superstar center Elias Pettersson, who’s out to prove his 102-point campaign last year wasn’t a fluke.
The 24-year-old is tied for the NHL lead in points with six (one goal, five assists), and twice outdueled three-time Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid to shoulder the Canucks to victory. This year is a prove-it year for Pettersson, and not just to show that he can score points.
The elite forward is a pending restricted free agent, and there’s been some doubts floating around regarding his future in Vancouver. And, the Canucks haven’t made the playoffs since Pettersson’s sophomore year in the NHL (2019-20). His next contract will go hand in hand with the Canucks’ record, but how will that look if he takes his game another step further?
The Canucks haven’t had a player win the Hart Trophy since franchise legend Henrik Sedin did so in 2010 after setting the franchise’s points record. If Pettersson can continue at his pace, break Sedin’s record, and secure a Hart Trophy, he’ll leave Vancouver no choice but to re-sign him. And if that happens, that probably means that they’ve made the playoffs too.
Trade rumors be damned, Pettersson and Conor Garland have been the team’s two best forwards at both ends of the ice, and they’ve got a lot to play for in the coming weeks and for the rest of the season. And for those who might still be doubting Pettersson, refer to Auston Matthews’ Hart Trophy campaign from the 2021-22 season. It can be done, and Pettersson has been playing like a man possessed in the first week of the new season.
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The savvy Swede’s story is only just beginning – he’s on a mission to prove himself to the league – and perhaps most importantly – to the Canucks. By the time the dust settles, Pettersson will have earned every penny on his next contract.