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Canucks’ Top 25 Under 25 (2022 Edition): Elias Pettersson falls to #2

Of course...lots of suspense about who finishes at #1.

NHL: Preseason-Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (40) during a stop in play against the Calgary Flames in the second period at Rogers Arena. Calgary won 3-2 in overtime.
Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings, the series that makes you wish you were under 25 again. The list includes all players born after April 15th, 1998.

Here’s the good news.

Elias Pettersson entered Canucks training camp in 2022 as a man on a mission. Throughout camp, preseason, and early in the 2022-23 campaign, the 23-year-old looks primed for a career year.

It’s just too bad he wasn’t able to accomplish that last season.

Pettersson endured a horrific start at the beginning of 2021-22. He had just four goals and 12 points in his first 25 games.

Only three (!!!) of those points came at even strength.

Granted, not many Canucks played well at the beginning of last season, but Pettersson was right up there with the most underwhelming of the bunch.

His crappy start, coupled with basically everyone aside from Hughes and Demko not playing well, did lead to the dismissal of Jim Benning and Travis Green.

That was probably a blessing in disguise. So...maybe we should be thanking Pettersson for his shaky start at the beginning of last season?

Okay, time for some more good news.

Pettersson really hit his stride under Boudreau. It took him about a dozen games to settle in, but the Swede began to look like a superstar in the latter half of last season.

During Pettersson’s final 43 games of last season, he registered 26 goals and 51 points. That’s good for a 49-goal, 97-point pace over a full 82 games.

That’s the Pettersson we’ve come to expect in this market ever since he busted onto the scene with 10 goals in his first 10 career NHL games.

When Pettersson is at his best, he’s a two-way force to be reckoned with. He’s easily the Canucks best two-way centre (if you think it’s Horvat or Miller, you’re dead wrong), and he’s one of those players who can exceedingly elevate his teammates.

What’s Next for Pettersson?

While many casual fans know Pettersson for his dangles, dekes and on-ice heroics, he’s arguably fallen out of the top three among most valuable Canucks players.

There were a plethora of “Top 50 NHL players” articles posted prior to the season starting. While Hughes, Demko, and Miller were scattered across all of those lists, not one of them that I read mentioned Elias Pettersson.

That’s probably the right call. He’s got the potential to be one of the best players in the NHL, but he hasn’t consistently shown that over the last two seasons.

If the Canucks are going to make any noise this season, they need Pettersson to play like a superstar.

At this point, we can realistically expect Demko to challenge for a Vezina. We can also realistically expect Hughes to play like a number one defenceman.

We might expect Pettersson to be a superstar, but he hasn’t done it consistently since the end of the 2020 bubble playoffs.

If he can finally flash that superstar potential over a full season, he might bring actual hope to Canucks fans for the first time in nearly a decade.