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Pettersson Should Turn Heads

The 2017 NHL Draft prospect has put up scoring numbers in Sweden

by Matt Shwayder / ColoradoAvalanche.com

ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Elias Pettersson is the No. 2-ranked international skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth overall selection at the draft. 

Elias Pettersson checks off plenty of boxes when looking at a list of possible attributes of an NHL player. He is a point machine that has quick hands and loads of creativity when he steps on the ice. The 18-year-old forward from Sundsvall, Sweden, has a nose for the puck, whether that is in the offensive or defensive ends of the ice, which ultimately results in great productivity for his team.

Pettersson stands at 6-foot-2 and a mere 161 pounds, which means there is some growing that needs to be done for him to fill out his large frame. Although, his size doesn't seem to be slowing him down in any way, shape or form.

During the 2014-15 campaign, Pettersson's talent started to jump off the page. He recorded 65 points (31 goals and 34 assists) in 40 contests for Timra IK's under-18 squad. He did not stop there, as he led his team to a third-place finish behind his 14 playoff points (five goals and nine assists).

Pettersson followed the stellar U-18 season by trading off time the next year between Timra's junior and professional teams, where he continued to show off his point-producing capabilities and earned a stable spot on the professional roster for the following campaign.  

Video: Altitude profiles Elias Pettersson

Throughout the 2016-17 season, Pettersson was an absolute force against the men in Sweden's second-best league, Allsvenskan. Pettersson ended his rookie year with a point-per-game average (41 points in 43 games) keeping his goals (19) and assists (22) almost even throughout the season. The youngster made his place known in the league by having the most assists by a junior player (20 years old and younger) during the season.

"A fast, speedy star," said NHL director of European scouting Goran Stubb. "He had a sensational season for Timra in Sweden's second division, consistently producing offense despite the fact he's playing with and against much older players."

Pettersson has also seen some success in the international game as well, participating in the 2017 World Junior Championship where Sweden finished in fourth place after a bronze-medal game loss to Russia. Previously, he partook in the 2016 U18 World Championship where he tallied eight points (one goal and seven assists) in seven games, maintaining his point-per-game average while leading the Swedes to a silver-medal finish.  

The talented prospect brings a creativity to his game that will fit nicely in the NHL. He is able to create space for himself in order to put the puck in the back of the net or make a tough pass to an otherwise unopen man.

"His biggest gift is that he has an incredible understanding of the game. He sees the game from every angle and he is ahead of you all the time, so he always knows what to do with the puck," former Timra IK head coach Roger Forsberg said in an interview to the newspaper Sundsvall Tidning that was translated from Swedish. "He finds solutions in the offensive zone that only he can see."

To top it all off Pettersson comes from a family with hockey in its blood. His older brother Emil, who is almost identical in size to the 2017 prospect, was drafted in the sixth round in 2013 by the Nashville Predators and recently signed an entry-level contract with the NHL club starting next year.

It's hard to ignore Pettersson's natural ability to put points, especially when he is already doing it at a professional level. He brings a great hockey IQ to the table with an ability to create plays from anywhere on the ice. With the draft in sight, look for Pettersson to begin to make some noise as he very well could become a great core piece for many NHL franchises in the years to come. 

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