Yes, you read that headline correctly. The Vancouver Canucks have selected Elias Pettersson 80th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
No, not that Elias Pettersson. There’s another one. The Canucks now have two Elias Petterssons or Eliases Pettersson.
The Canucks were already the only team in NHL history to have two players with the same name at the same time, when they had both Greg Adams and Greg C. Adams in the 1988-89 season.
This year’s Elias Pettersson is a defenceman from Örebro HK in the SHL and he’s a very different player from the Elias Pettersson the Canucks already have.
Elias Pettersson is a reliable shutdown defenceman with limited offensive upside but he has a nice combination of size at 6’2” and speed.
“He plays physically and shows a lot of poise under pressure, using his mobility and reach to close gaps, occasionally with force,” says Elite Prospects’ Jimmy Hamrin. “Everything is there for him to be defensively effective in the NHL in a bottom-pairing role.”
"[Pettersson] brings good physicality, a smart stick and plus-rated skating," says Cam Robinson.
While he’s not likely to put up points, he’s a decent puck-mover out of the defensive zone, with a strong first pass and the ability to evade forecheckers with some deception and decent puckhandling skill to go with his mobile skating.
“Elias’ best trait is probably how, when he plays with confidence, he can use his skating ability to elude the pressure and open up the play on the breakout,” reads his scouting report from Draftin Europe. “He handles the puck well and is able to turn, curl or cutback with it. He makes subtle and effective outlet passes to his center on the breakout. He has the tools to potentially beat the first forechecker at the next level and initiate the rush.”
As with any player selected in the third round, Elias Pettersson comes with flaws, not the least of which is that it's exceptionally difficult to Google him.
In terms of actual flaws, he’s a calm and poised defenceman, but he’s been criticized for being too calm and lacking urgency at times.
“He is too casual with some of his passes in the defensive zone,” says Draftin Europe. “For a player his size, Pettersson needs to better engage in battles.”
Pettersson put up 10 goals and 18 points in 37 games in the J20 Nationell junior league in Sweden, but stepped up his game in the playoffs with 10 points in 6 games. Most importantly, he spent some time in the SHL, a good sign for a teenaged defenceman.
In 17 games with Örebro, Pettersson averaged just 6:23 in ice time, but that’s skewed downwards by several games where he was in the lineup but didn’t play, with teams allowed to dress 7 defencemen in the SHL. Pettersson had multiple games where he played more than 10 minutes, hitting a high of 16:46 in a game in February. That shows a great deal of trust in an 18-year-old defenceman.
A fun fact: Elias Pettersson says his favourite NHL player is Elias Pettersson.
The real question is, what will the Canucks do when they have two Elias Petterssons in the lineup? They’re going to have to put their middle initials in the namebars.