A dream season for the Canucks’ top prospect has ended in nightmarish fashion, as Elias Pettersson is out for the rest of the World Hockey Championships with a thumb injury.
According to team doctor Björn Waldebäck, Pettersson’s thumb is broken, and he’s not the only one. Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Erik Gustafsson reportedly also broke his thumb and is done for the tournament for Sweden as well. Canucks fans will understandably be more concerned about Pettersson's injury.
Pettersson suffered the injury during the second period of Sweden’s game against Switzerland. On a breakaway, Pettersson used his go-to move, deking to the backhand, then pulling the puck hard to the forehand. As he attempted to tuck the puck in, Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni stuck his stick out, tripping Pettersson.
Perhaps due to the disruption from Genoni's stick, Pettersson hit the post, coming just short of scoring his second goal of the tournament. Unfortunately, he won't get a chance to score another.
If you watch the video below carefully, you can see Pettersson’s left thumb hit the post right after the puck does.
Pettersson clearly jammed his left thumb on the post before he slid into the boards. Pettersson came out for one more shift in the second period, but returned to the bench and didn’t return for the third period. His grimace as the Swedish trainer checks his thumb speaks volumes.
It’s a tough end to the tournament for Pettersson, who seemed to be settling in. His line with Mikael Backlund was joined by Patric Hornqvist of the Nashville Predators and he assisted on Hornqvist’s first period goal against Switzerland. He set up on the right faceoff circle and made a nifty saucer pass to move the puck down low to Backlund, who set up Hornqvist in front.
The assist gave Pettersson three points in his five World Hockey Championship games, but he showed potential for a lot more.
As an example, Pettersson nearly scored a gorgeous between-the-legs goal against Slovakia, but couldn’t quite send the puck home.
Elias Pettersson was close to score the goal of the tournament.... pic.twitter.com/OFMkbJNAup— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) May 12, 2018
Pettersson has plenty of time to recover from his broken thumb in the off-season and it hopefully won’t delay his training too long. Pettersson has done everything he possibly could in the SHL, winning Rookie of the Year, Best Forward, MVP, and Playoff MVP, while helping lead the Växjö Lakers to the SHL Championship. He’s ready to come to North America.
Sweden will have to go on without Pettersson, but they still boast a strong team without him. They remains undefeated in the preliminary round, defeating both Slovakia and Switzerland in their last two games, though it took overtime against Slovakia.
Anders Nilsson got his third start of the tournament against Switzerland and, for the first time, didn’t post a shutout. He made 20 saves on 23 shots in the 5-3 victory, bringing his save percentage to .941, good for third in the tournament behind Finland’s Harri Sateri and USA’s Keith Kinkaid.
UPDATE: Pettersson is slated to have surgery on his thumb and should be recovered in 3-4 weeks.
Pettersson will have surgery on his thumb, be out a few weeks. A minor and routine surgery, will be 100% healthy at training camp, #Canucks— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) May 14, 2018