Canucks’ Pettersson now clear Hart Trophy frontrunner

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 28: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during the third period of their NHL game against the New York Rangers at Rogers Arena on October 28, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 28: Elias Pettersson #40 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice during the third period of their NHL game against the New York Rangers at Rogers Arena on October 28, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
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Through their first 11 games of the season, the Vancouver Canucks are in second place in the Western Conference boasting a record of 8-2-1; who would’ve guessed it? Elias Pettersson is one of the biggest reasons for their success, and with the New Jersey Devils’ Jack Hughes and Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid both missing time through injury early on this year, it would seem that Pettersson is the Hart Trophy frontrunner at the moment.

The 24-year-old is tied with Hughes for first in the NHL in scoring with 20 points, notching six goals and 14 assists through all 11 Canucks games so far. But, with his Devils counterpart ‘week-to-week’ with an upper-body injury, the scoring deadlock will soon break in Pettersson’s favor.

McDavid is still McDavid, but if the Oilers don’t start improving rapidly, he won’t score as much and the team will continue on this downward spiral. The Canucks will get their next chance to add to that on Nov. 6, and if Pettersson shows out in that matchup too, his early grip on the Hart Trophy will only grow tighter.

The Canucks will also benefit from a ton of softer matchups coming up in the next weeks, with games against the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, and Anaheim Ducks coming up this month. The Ducks and Islanders are more than capable NHL teams on their night, but the Canucks did score 10 goals against the Sharks on Nov. 2 – they’ll play San Jose two more times within the next three weeks.

After a 102-point 2022-23 campaign, it shouldn’t be surprise to see Pettersson in the running for the Hart after a bunch of point-per-game seasons early on in his NHL career. At 24 years old, the Swede hasn’t even hit his prime yet, and even though they’re rolling right now, this Canucks team could still be improved in a bunch of different areas.

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If Pettersson continues to elevate his game throughout the season, Vancouver is going to be a scary place to play for the visitors. Watch this space.