A little more than eight months after being drafted fifth overall, Vancouver Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson is making history in Sweden’s top pro league.
He’s been on the radar here for a while now. Before leaving his Vaxjo team to play for Sweden at the world juniors, Pettersson was leading the SHL in scoring outright and had a 1.35 points-per-game rate.
Fast forward to today and Pettersson is second in league scoring despite the missed time. And with two points Thursday, the 19-year-old reached 50 on the season in 40 games, which pushed him into sole possession of second all-time for a player under the age of 20, surpassing Forsberg’s 48-point total from 1992-93. [sidebar]
And he knows Canucks fans are keeping an eye on what he’s doing in Sweden.
“I’ve seen some stuff on Twitter on some media and it’s really excited for me as well that they believe in me and want me to get over there,” Pettersson said in December. “So I’m happy with the situation that they’re excited for me.”
Pettersson has four games left in his season and is now chasing down Kent Nilsson for the all-time record by a junior-aged player. Nilsson scored 54 points in 1975-76, but did it in just 36 games.
The question is how soon will Pettersson join the Canucks in North America? Olli Juolevi, the fifth-overall pick in 2016, went to play against pros in Finland this season rather than return to junior with the London Knights, but he seemed to need more seasoning. It seems a good bet Pettersson will come over next season, though Canucks president Trevor Linden did’t commit to anything in a January interview on Hockey Central Saturday.
“We’re going to have to sit down and see where he’s at but what he’s done in the Swedish Elite League is pretty impressive,” Linden said.