Elias Pettersson is heading into the final season of his current contract and is already eligible to sign an extension.
Don't expect him to sign an extension any time soon, however. The Vancouver Canucks' franchise centre said in an interview with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman that he's in no hurry to get a contract done.
"I'm not in a rush to sign," said Pettersson from Stockholm, Sweden. "I've got one more year left over there and I don't want to rush into anything because I still don't know myself if it's going to be a short-term or long-term [contract], but it's going to be probably my biggest contract so far. So, I don't want to stress anything."
Before any Canucks fans panic — "He doesn't know if he wants to be here long term???" — it seems more accurate to say that Pettersson doesn't want to worry about a contract while he's trying to make sure the Canucks get off to a better start than last season. It's more a matter of keeping his focus where it should be.
"The whole summer, I'm just trying to prepare myself as much as possible with training, trying to gain a little bit of weight, some muscles," said Pettersson. "And yeah, especially get off to a good start with the team."
Accordingly, Pettersson has put contract talks "on hold" for the summer, as he said to NHL.com.
"I've just put that on hold," said Pettersson. "I still have one more year left. I've been wanting to focus on training this summer and the contract will sort itself out."
While it would be nice for Canucks fans to hear from Pettersson that he wants a long-term contract so he can stay in Vancouver for his entire career, it's understandable that the young forward, who has seen the playoffs just once in his career, would want to keep his options open. Still, he seems positive about the direction of the Canucks during the offseason.
"At the end of the day I just want to win and I think we have some really good things going now in Vancouver," he said. "We've made some good trades and I think we had a good free agency, we got some good players.
"I think we got a good feeling about what it takes to be a good team and we just have to build on what we started at the end of last season."
Pettersson has made it clear in the past that he wants to play for a winning team, which is perfectly understandable for a highly competitive player like Pettersson. Before he arrived in the NHL, Pettersson got used to winning, as he led the Växjö Lakers to the SHL Championship in his one and only season in the SHL. The fact that same success hasn't come in the NHL has to rankle at Pettersson.
It's also worth noting that Pettersson is also betting on himself by waiting to sign an extension. Pettersson isn't short of confidence and has said that his goal is to better his 39 goals and 102 points from last season. If he's able to put up a second 100+ point season, that will increase what he can ask for on his contract extension compared to having just one such season under his belt.
At the very least, Pettersson loves the city of Vancouver, which has instilled a love for big cities after he grew up in a smaller town.
"Now I like living in big cities," said Pettersson about living in Stockholm during the offseason. "Just a big town, a lot of opportunities for a lot of golf courses, my trainer lives here, and I've got a lot of hockey friends here as well...[Vancouver] transitioned me to a big city guy."