Elias Pettersson has drawn awe from around the NHL with his stunning goals and mind-bending moves over the past two months, but those who’ve played alongside him say there’s likely more to come. Pettersson (40) celebrates his goal with teammate Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser (6) against the Minnesota Wild during third period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Canucks’ Elias Pettersson will only get ‘better and better’: former teammate

The Vancouver rookie has already notched 13 goals and eight assists in 20 games

Elias Pettersson has drawn awe from around the NHL with his stunning goals and mind-bending moves over the past two months, but those who’ve played alongside him say there’s likely more to come.

The Vancouver Canucks rookie has already notched 13 goals and eight assists in 20 games and earned comparisons to some of hockey’s greatest legends.

It’s hype that his current and former teammates say is warranted.

Andrew Calof played with Pettersson on the Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden last year and said everyone knew right away that the then-teen was a “special talent” with a insatiable work ethic.

“He’s a perfectionist. When he sets his mind to something he will accomplish it,” Calof, an Ottawa native, said in an email from Russia where he’s currently playing for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Kontinental Hockey League.

READ MORE: Pettersson lifts Canucks to 4-2 win over Kings

Pettersson never stopped vying to grow as a player, constantly watching video and working after practices on shooting and passing, Calof said.

“He just would spend so much time trying to improve every aspect of his game and that’s what makes him such a fantastic player,” he said.

“And what’s scary is he will only get better and better.”

The Lakers captured the Swedish Hockey League championship. Pettersson — who led the entire league in scoring with 56 points — was dubbed the most valuable player and painted himself gold to match the golden helmet he received for the honour.

“He was the golden boy!” Calof said. “He was a huge part of that championship.”

Pettersson was also a lot of fun to play with, Calof said.

“Whoever was on his line knew they were going to get a couple of extra points that week because Elias would do something crazy and either give you an open net or score a shot that you’re think was impossible,” he said.

Now he’s making the same sort of moves on hockey’s biggest stage, deking out opponents, making jaw-dropping passes and rocketing pucks past stunned goalies.

The fifth-overall pick at the NHL’s 2017 draft was named the league’s rookie of the month for October, despite missing two weeks due to a concussion he suffered from a hit by Florida’s Mike Matheson on Oct. 13.

In early November, he became the youngest Canuck to ever put up a five-point game when he helped the Canucks squeeze out a 7-6 OT win over the Colorado Avalanche. The eye-popping performance led to the NHL’s second star of the week honour.

While he’s quickly become an offensive juggernaut for Vancouver, the 20-year-old centre is also showing his ability to be an all-around player, blocking shots and back-checking hard.

“His IQ on the ice is beyond mine and beyond our team’s, I think. It’s pretty funny,” said Canucks right-winger Jake Virtanen. “When you see him out there, he’s just thinking of stuff to do that no one else would really think of.”

READ MORE: Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

Various hockey analysts have compared aspects of the six-foot-two, 176-pound Swede’s game to some of hockey’s best, including Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Even his teammates see similarities to the greats.

“I see shades of (former Detroit Red Wing) Pavel Datsyuk and those type of players in him, just his hands, the way he moves out there,” said Canucks centre Bo Horvat.

“But I think he’s himself. I don’t think there’s any person in the league who’s like Elias Pettersson. He brings his own element to the game.”

Those elements already have the young athlete on a special level, Virtanen said.

“I think he’s possibly one of the best players in the NHL already,” he said. “He’s very fun to watch and obviously a treat to have on our team.”

It’s still early in Pettersson’s career to compare him to one specific player, Calof said.

“But he’s definitely the best player I’ve ever played with,” he added. “If he keeps this up, he could be the greatest hockey player to ever come out of Sweden. That’s certainly something I hope for.”

Wayne Gretzky recently spoke about Pettersson on a Vancouver radio station, saying he sees similarities in how they both play the game.

Pettersson said being mentioned alongside Gretzky is a great honour, though it’s one he isn’t entirely comfortable with.

“I don’t know if anyone should be compared to him because he’s the greatest ever,” said the rookie, who is described by teammates as quiet and humble off the ice.

Despite the parallels and the attention from around the league, Pettersson said he’s not feeling any extra pressure and is still having fun playing the game he loves.

“I’m living my dream,” he said.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prince Rupert Regional Airport Manager Rick Leach said on Oct. 29 that small community airports, like YPR, need a government cash infusion to survive COVID-19. (Northern View file photo)
Failure of Government and airlines leave regional and community airports on the brink of financial collapse

Govt. cash infusion is needed for smaller airports, like Prince Rupert, to survive COVID-19 - RCAC

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have affected the Prince Rupert community the week of Oct. 29 with a Shoppers Drug Mart employee and an S.D. 52 staff or student being infected with the virus. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 infects Prince Rupert school district individual

S.D. 52 is prepared for COVID-19 and is working under Northern Health protocols - Sandy Pond

Masks are now compulsory at all Prince Rupert public facilities and the City reminds people to discard used masks in waste bins, a media release on Oct. 29 said. (Photo by K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Mandatory mask-wearing effective immediately at city public facilities

City of Prince Rupert makes masks compulsory to protect community health and safety

North Coast home-grown ice talent Carly Edwards from Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert takes centre ice on TV competition show Battle of the Blades Thursday nights at 8 p.m., with her partner NHL partner Kris Versteeg. (Photo supplied)
Local figure skater spotlights on TV show’s centre ice

Prince Rupert’s Carly Edwards is featured on TV competition show Battle of the Blades

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read