The Vancouver Canucks have been led by two players this postseason, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. If they somehow manage to go all the way and win the Stanley Cup, they both will be in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Though, if I had to choose between the two, Pettersson would ultimately win it. He’s been the best player for the Canucks in every series so far, and he just keeps surprising everyone with his compete level, maturity, and overall skill.
Pettersson just keeps getting it done, game in and game out. Dekey Pete is here to stay, and he will win a Conn Smythe at least once in his career. Could he do it this year? I don’t know, but for now, let’s take a look at what he has done to convince us that it’s more than just possible, it’s almost a certainty.
Pettersson Doesn’t Back Down
Pettersson just loves to win and will do anything to drive his team to victory. He also doesn’t back down from a challenge or a childish chirp. Every time a team, coach, or even the media criticizes a part of his game, he comes back harder and stronger to prove that he’s the best. That’s what elite players do, they step up to the plate and hit one out of the park when their team needs it the most.
After a disappointing Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights where Pettersson was held off the scoresheet, he came back with a vengeance in Game 2 with three points and a highlight-reel goal. You know what? I was not surprised one bit. He just elevates his play when the games get the toughest. He just doesn’t back down from a fight, and that’s what is going to eventually win him not only a Conn Smythe Trophy but a Stanley Cup as well.
Pettersson’s teammates see his compete level and you can’t tell me that they don’t feed off it. His natural talent is beyond insane, but it’s his will that makes him the superstar he is. Troy Stecher said as much on Thursday after Pettersson’s latest brush with stardom.
He comes to the rink every day with a purpose. Those superstars, guys of his calibre, they just kind of have that look in their eye that they want to be the best and are going to do everything they can to be the best. I don’t think Petey is any different than that.
Pettersson’s ability to keep raising his game amidst intense focus from opposing teams is the mark of an elite player, and he’s only 21-years-old. Imagine what he could do at age 25. It’s insane to even think about, especially when his 16 points are second in the playoffs behind Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon. All I have to say is, look out NHL, Pettersson is a top-five talent, and he’s only just begun to show everyone what he can do at the highest level.
Pettersson is Never Satisfied
With the plethora of talents Pettersson already possesses, you would think that’s enough for him. Except it never is, not by a long shot. He already has soft hands, a laser wrist shot, a bomb of a one-timer, elite edges, precise playmaking, and a hockey brain that rivals the best in the history of the game, what more could he want?
The thing is, Pettersson’s skills weren’t all ingrained in him from birth. He had to work long and hard to get to be the player he is today. If you can believe it, his shot and one-timer were once thought of as weaknesses. It’s hard to believe, right? Those weaknesses are now major strengths, all because he identified them and worked hard to make them better.
Most of it was my one timers…But I also would practice shooting from every angle that is a good scoring area. I would practice all over the ice. I would just keep on shooting. After every practice I’d stay on the ice for 15 minutes and I wouldn’t stop shooting.Elias Pettersson (from ‘Elias Pettersson, Vancouver’s Alien, touches down’ AthleticNHL, 9/7/18)
Is Dekey Pete Conn Smythe Worthy?
Pettersson has been one of the best players in the playoffs. He’s done it all, from a one-timer on the power play to a shifty deke on Golden Knights’ goaltender Robin Lehner. He has also fought through the physical play and intense scrutiny of the postseason and just continues to make jaw-dropping plays. He’s got ice water in his veins and doesn’t seem phased by the pressure and focus he’s receiving right now.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is given to the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs. Previous winners include Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, and of course Wayne Gretzky. They all carried their teams in the playoffs by being prominent figures in goals, points, and clutch moments. When you look at that definition and what Pettersson has done so far in the playoffs and what he could do in the future, there’s no doubt in my mind that he will add that award to his resume one day.
Pettersson Has Been There, Done That
Pettersson is no stranger to being the center of attention in the postseason. In fact, he won a playoff MVP award in the Swedish Hockey League with the Vaxjo Lakers. His leadership and stardom were evident throughout those playoffs as he accumulated 10 goals and 19 points in 13 games.
Pettersson not only won the SHL Playoff MVP award, but he also scored the game-winning goal to seal the championship for the Lakers. He was painted gold as a result, and you have to wonder if he ever washed it off. Since then all he has done is break records and become one of the best forwards in the NHL. He remains gold plated and could even be identified as platinum at this point.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Pettersson is now dominating the NHL playoffs too. After all, pressure creates diamonds and he is just the most recent example of a superstar coming into his own in the pressure cooker of the postseason.
Pettersson’s Story Has Just Begun
The Canucks are going to need Pettersson to repeat his performance from Game 2 in Game 4 on Sunday if they hope to avoid a 3-1 series deficit. He was one of the few bright spots in Game 3, so look for him to step up once again and lead his team to victory. After all, it seems like he always comes to play when it matters the most. I expect that Game 4 won’t be any different.
Pettersson has been nothing short of spectacular, and something tells me that the story of his greatness is only in chapter one. This is not a short story, it’s a novel of epic proportions. By the end of his career, he will have won multiple Conn Smythe, Hart, and Art Ross Trophies, and if all goes according to plan, he will lead his Canucks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history as well. Bottom line is, he’s just that good.
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.