Although he by no means lacked for confidence, the Swedish tremendous rookie admits he grew up pondering he would not make it to The Present
VANCOUVER — Elias Pettersson didn’t at all times envision himself skating among the many greats.
“I at all times imagine in myself. However to be sincere, rising up I didn’t suppose I’d play within the NHL,” the Vancouver Canucks’ star rookie stated Tuesday. “I used to be simply practising arduous, at all times working and took it step-by-step. And now I’m right here, residing my dream. Nothing’s come straightforward.”
Pettersson will stay out an entire new dream this weekend when he takes half within the NHL’s all-star weekend. The 20-year-old native of Sundsvall, Sweden, has earned his spot within the occasion with eye-popping performances over his first 4 months within the league.
He leads the Canucks in scoring with 23 targets and 21 assists, regardless of having missed 11 video games with accidents.
Ottawa Senators centre Colin White is the present runner-up within the rookie scoring race with 26 factors.
Pettersson has proven regular progress since becoming a member of the Canucks’ prospect camp in July, stated head coach Travis Inexperienced.
“Clearly, he’s improved,” Inexperienced stated. “The speed of enchancment for younger gamers, it’s not the identical for each participant. I feel elite gamers are inclined to make changes and enhance loads faster. And I feel he’s performed that.”
There’s nonetheless extra to do, Pettersson stated.
“I’ll nonetheless proceed working. Although I’ve had some success currently, it’s numerous work behind it,” he stated.
The six-foot-two, 176-pound Pettersson has additionally been motivated by the criticism that he’s too small to carry up within the NHL.
“I’ve been doubted that I can’t play as a result of I’m not an enormous particular person, I’m too skinny,” stated Pettersson, who has centered on what he’s good at, significantly his hockey thoughts, and honed strengths that different gamers could not possess.
Now he’s about to share the ice with a number of the biggest hockey minds within the league.
Pettersson stated he didn’t develop up watching the star-studded sport on tv however would usually catch the highlights on YouTube.
“For probably the most half I feel will probably be enjoyable to have the ability to see all the great gamers up shut and possibly get to know a few of them,” he stated.
Brock Boeser was a rookie final 12 months when he represented the Canucks on the occasion and stated it was “humbling” to be round some fashionable hockey legends.
“After I obtained to satisfy (Sidney) Crosby and all these guys — the checklist goes on (Brett) Burns, (Anze) Kopitar and all these guys on my staff — it was such an eye-opening expertise and it was tremendous enjoyable,” stated the 21-year-old right-winger.
Boeser stated he considered what the expertise could be like for a lot of his six-hour flight to Tampa Bay and was extremely nervous earlier than his flip within the capturing accuracy occasion.
“My fingers have been sweaty earlier than I even shot. I wasn’t even nervous to shoot in entrance of the gang. It was extra nerve-racking to shoot in entrance of all these guys,” he stated. “I believed I used to be screwed.”
Regardless of the nerves, Boeser hit all 5 targets in 11.13 seconds to win the competitors over Crosby, Blake Wheeler, Steven Stamkos and 4 different all-stars.
Afterwards, Crosby skated over to introduce himself and chat whereas technicians mounted the targets. Boeser’s shot had damaged the plastic.
“When you get on the market and do it and also you get on the market within the sport, you’re not nervous anymore and you’ll take pleasure in the entire thing,” stated Boeser, who went on to tally 55 factors in his first full season earlier than he was sidelined with a damaged bone in his decrease again.
Pettersson doesn’t know but which abilities competitors he’ll be on this weekend, however had some feedback about Boeser’s efficiency final 12 months.
“He was fortunate,” Pettersson stated with a smile.
The younger Canuck ought to line up towards the opposite all-stars on this 12 months’s accuracy occasion, Boeser stated.
“Are you kidding me?” he stated. “You see how good his accuracy is on the market. It wouldn’t shock me. However I imply, he’s so expert at every thing else, so who is aware of what they’re going to place him in.”