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)

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

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue brought a man to safety, and awaiting paramedics, after a 20-foot fall down an embankment on Jan. 23, 2020, on Harrison West Forest Service Road. (Kent Harrison Search and Rescue photo)
Rescue crew lifts man up 20-foot embankment near Harrison Lake

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue says this is the fifth call already this year

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read