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The Chosen One (At 5th Overall): Elias Pettersson Signs With the Vancouver Canucks

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After much ado about nothing, Pettersson takes another step towards suiting up for the Canucks

2017 NHL Draft - Round One
Elias Pettersson is interviewed after being selected fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last week, speculation was running rampant that Elias Pettersson might spend another year in Sweden.

After dominating the SHL circuit by leading the league in both points and playoff points, Pettersson turned into a golden Swedish hero by leading the Vaxjo Lakers to the league championship as a 19-year-old.

His performance was so stunning, even Kent Nilsson was jealous.

Then news broke last week about Pettersson possibly staying in Sweden the Vaxjo Lakers general manager publicly begging Pettersson to return to the team.

Alas, his pleading was futile, as Pettersson is now officially a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

The news became official today that Pettersson is leaving Sweden to join the Canucks. And who says this kid doesn’t have grit. Look at him put pen to paper, broken thumb and all.

While the news today is exciting for Canucks fans everywhere, it shouldn’t come about as even a slight surprise. Pettersson’s fate was a hot button issue on sports radio last week after that report from Sweden, but it should have been obvious that Pettersson was going to come to North America.

There was nothing left to prove for Pettersson in Sweden unless he wanted to become a one-man version of the Harlem Globetrotters on ice. He dangled and danced through defenders all season long, and now he should get his chance to show that he can do the same in the NHL.

The next upcoming debate will be about whether Pettersson will stick in the NHL next year, or head to the AHL for some good ol’ fashion seasoning. Although there’s at least some plausibility to both sides of the equation, that debate might become about as silly as the “will he or won’t he leave Sweden” debate.

Jim Benning has basically confirmed as much on Sportsnet 650, when he said that Pettersson is NHL ready. He sure doesn’t sound like someone who expects Pettersson to begin the year in Utica.

Unless Pettersson gets stage fright on the NHL ice surface, he easily has the talent to stick in the Canucks top-six next season. This was a guy who had the talent to play in the NHL last year, according to Canucks scout Thomas Gradin. I mean, his comparables in the SHL are guys like Peter Forsberg and Nicklas Backstrom.

Although the Canucks aren’t the deepest team, Pettersson should get the chance to play with some talented NHL players next sea...

No pressure amirite? This kid only has to drag Loui Eriksson out of the third-line depths he’s descended to.

Speaking of no pressure:

No word on if Mats Sundin has joined the Canucks marketing team, but he’s sure doing a hell of a sell job on both Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen.

Whether it’s fair or not, this is just something Pettersson will have to get used to in Vancouver. Playing in a hockey hotbed, on a shitty team that just lost two Hall of Fame Swedes isn’t the least pressure-packed situation he could be entering.

Sundin’s comments also make sense from a pride point of view. European’s love taking pride in their country’s players, and even stars like Sundin are no exception.

After signing his maxed-out three-year entry level deal, Pettersson will have a cap hit of just $925,000 before bonuses. According to CapFriendly, the performance bonuses could elevate his cap hit up to $3.575 million per season.

With money as the motivation, Pettersson is ready to spend every waking minute of his offseason training so that he’s prepared for the rigors of the NHL.

Some even offered advice on how to help Pettersson bulk up in the offseason.