The Vancouver Canucks selected centre Elias Pettersson with the fifth-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft Friday night in Chicago.
Pettersson generated 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games in Sweden this past season playing for Timra IK in the Allsvenskan league.
Prior to the draft, Canucks general manager Jim Benning had said he was hoping to select either a playmaking centre or a defenceman that could be used on the power play. Benning is now hoping Pettersson can become that centre.
“I think I create a lot of scoring chances both for me and my teammates,” Pettersson told reporters in Chicago Friday. “I’m a playmaker, like to pass the puck more than shoot it maybe more often, and I’m an offensive player…They were the team who showed the most interest in me. I had a feeling about that but you never know who you’re going to get picked because you don’t — I can’t control where I’m going to get picked.”
Pettersson will be joining a familiar face in the Canucks organization. His best friend is Jonathan Dahlen, the player the Canucks acquired when they sent Alex Burrows to the Ottawa Senators.
Dahlen and Pettersson ranked first and second, respectively, in scoring on Timra IK in 2016-17. Pettersson will return to Timra next season to continue his development.
“I don’t think I’m ready for NHL,” Pettersson added. “I need to become stronger and faster. I’m aware of that, and I’m working on that this summer…I’m a player who plays with lots of instincts, but I like how Nicklas Backstrom plays. He’s a guy who makes teammates better, creates chances for himself, so yeah. But I’ve got a lot to learn to get on his level.”
The Canucks also had the fifth-overall pick in 2016 when they chose London Knights star defenceman Olli Juolevi.