Vancouver Canucks, Elias Pettersson

Canucks Gabby on Elite Elias, ‘He’s Only Gonna Get Better’

Canucks Elite Pete

The man they call ‘Petey’ is everything and more for the Vancouver Canucks at the moment. He’s tied for 10th in NHL scoring with 34 points, but it’s what he does at both ends of the ice that matters. A seemingly rare combination for his body type and skill set.

“There were a couple of games there where he wasn’t good, but that’s a couple games, I think for the most part this year he’s been very consistent,” Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau told Vancouver Hockey Insider on Friday. “At both ends of the ice he’s been very good.”

For those who prefer math over heart, his analytics match-up with the eye test. Petey has a 56% Corsi and Fenwick rating; that’s shots for compared to against when he’s on the ice, the latter being shots unblocked, while he’s ahead of his expected goal and point pace. His puck possession numbers are augmented by skills that can’t be quantified; dangle and ice sense that is sometimes tough to describe.

“I think he can pass like Nick Bäckström,” Boudreau added, “I think he’s got a better shot than Nick Bäckström though.”

That’s comparing the just turned 24-year-old Petey to a 15-year NHL veteran who’s tallied more than 700 assists and will get strong consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame once his career is over, which may be coming sooner than later following off-season hip surgery that’s kept him out of the line-up this fall.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever had a player like him (Pettersson) that’s pretty sharp in his own zone, can kill penalties and things. He’s growing up, he’s maturing, he’s getting better, he’s still a young man, and he’s still gonna get better I think,” Boudreau added.

Pettersson scored the game winning goal in both of the Canucks overtime victories this week, 7-6 over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday and 6-5 against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.

In the 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes that preceded the other two, Bo Horvat scored the game winner, but Petey had two assists in the game.

What you see is what you get. Although slight, Petey did bulk up a bit this past off-season and he’s not afraid to get involved. He’s delivered 21 hits this season.

“He looks slight, but he’s a lot sturdier than he looks, I’ll tell you that much,” Boudreau said, while also affirming that Petey came in stronger this season.

Guess what? That three year contract he signed last fall after missing training camp, it expires after next season. That means he’s eligible to be signed to another extension starting the middle of this next summer. It will be well north of the $7.35-million per season he’s making now.

Smooth move by his agent Pat Brisson in October of 2021 setting up this next opportunity. Despite a slow start last season, Petey has gradually taken advantage of finding his game and re-proving himself. He’s gonna get paid.

In the meantime, Pettersson covers up for a handful of Canucks blemishes. More often than not he provides excitement and offence when the team needs it most.

It’s easy to question who should and shouldn’t be part of the core for Vancouver moving forward. There’s no question about Petey.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.