Elias Pettersson is someone who will hear his name called early at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.
Spending most of the season alongside Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen playing for Timra in the Allsvenskan in Sweden, Pettersson is a very skilled playmaker who is a wizard with the puck. He consistently displays patience when he has possession and uses his teammates extremely well. He draws his opponents to him, then embarrasses them as he dangles past them or takes them out of position to give his teammate a good opportunity.
He is tenacious on the fore-check, never giving up on a chance to force a turnover and pressuring the opposing defence into quick decisions. He is a complete hockey player who seems to never tire and doesn't give up on a play.
Video: Elias Pettersson - Prospect Profile
With 19 goals and 22 assists, Pettersson led all first time draft eligible forwards in the Allsvenskan and finished the season with the 9th most points in the entire league. He also led the under 19 players in plus/minus with +15. He had the most assists by a junior player. When looking at Allsvenskan regulars, Pettersson's 0.95 PPG were ranked 5th in the league.
Dahlen and Pettersson were put together and carried Timra's offence and possession numbers throughout the entire year. They complimented each other very well and were a handful for opposing teams. At times, it felt like other teams were just trying to shut down those two and weren't worrying about the rest of Timra IK. Given that they were one-two in scoring for Timra and led the next closest teammate by 8 points, you can't blame the opposing teams for adjusting to try and shut them down.
Since Dahlen was selected 42nd overall by the Ottawa Senators at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, it's easy to compare the two player's production during their draft year as well as Dahlen's past season:
It's clear that Pettersson's production was well above that of Dahlen's, and is comparable to the Canucks prospects draft plus one season. Obviously, Dahlen has taken another step forward this year but the difference between each others draft season production is encouraging for Pettersson.
The 6'2" and 165 lbs winger's 0.95 point per game is ranked 3rd in Allsvenskan history amongst U19 players trailing only St Louis Blues centre Patrik Berglund and Columbus Blue Jackets centre William Karlsson.
The young centre will be transferring to the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL for next season. That step up in league will be a great development path for Pettersson as he gets to move to the top league in Sweden for a team which won the regular season standings last year.
He will need to continue to fill out and add strength as he isn't ready for the NHL yet, so going to the SHL is great stepping stone for someone like Pettersson. If he can add the necessary weight without sacrificing his tireless work ethic and style of play, he should continue to see results.
Pettersson has represented the Tre Kroner multiple times over the last few seasons. His most noteworthy performance was during the Under-18 World Championships in 2015-16, where he posted one goal and seven assists in 7 games en route to a Silver medal. He was on the World Junior team this past winter in a depth role. He was limited to one assists in six games, but that wasn't indicative of how well he played.
It's fair to expect that he will represent Sweden at the World Juniors again this year and will be relied upon to carry the offensive load.
It's hard to predict where Pettersson will get selected at this draft. Entering as the second ranked international skater by NHL Central Scouting, Pettersson has a skill set that is extremely attractive to teams. He plays with speed, tenacity and skill that is hard to match. The Sundsvall, Sweden native will obviously need to add some weight and strength but he has a skillset that may be just too hard for some teams to pass up.