Vancouver Canucks prospects, Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen were one of the better duos that Swedish hockey has seen. This season, however, they parted ways and found success separately. Now, with the 2017-18 hockey season concluded, the duo looks forward to next season and a chance to be reunited once more.
Believe the hype. Pettersson is the real deal and will prove to be an elite NHL center. The 19-year-old has excelled on every stage and under the heaviest of spotlights. From his stellar play in the Allsvenskan in Sweden to his dominance at the World Junior Championships and now, most recently, his dismantling of the SHL.
At every turn of Pettersson’s young career, he’s faced a healthy amount of criticism, mostly because of his 6-foot-2 and very skinny, 160-pound frame. Beyond that, skeptics questioned whether or not he could be offensively productive in a professional league without his sidekick, Dahlen. He quickly silenced those who doubted his solo abilities.
Not only did Pettersson break scoring records as a teenager in the regular season of his first SHL campaign, he also did it in the postseason, notching 10 goals and nine helpers in 13 games. His team went on to win the championship and Pettersson was named playoff MVP.
Dahlen isn’t as offensively hyped as Pettersson but his physical composition is closer to NHL-ready and his hockey-sense makes him a threat at every level. Unlike Pettersson, Dahlen stayed in the Allsvenskan, continued to dominate and turned down an offer from an SHL team.
“Only an idiot without heart would have left Timra at this moment,” said Dahlen, “and I would not describe myself as an idiot without a heart. My heart is in the right place and I will continue to play for Timra.”
That display of character and maturity is a dream when it comes to the high-pressure Canucks media. On top of that, the legacy left by Daniel and Henrik Sedin needs to be carried on and moves like that are steps in the right direction.
Dahlen, like Pettersson, helped lead his team to glory and it all came full circle for him. Upon winning the Allsvenskan playoffs, his team was brought up into the league he previously rejected, the SHL. His performance this season and his consistency throughout his time in the Allsvenskan earned him some time with the Utica Comets following the conclusion of his team’s season.
Dahlen has only laced up for the Comets twice but he has put up a goal and an assist in his short stint, further illustrating his ability to compete at any level.
“It was fun. It took time getting used to the smaller ice surface. It was fast and less time and space but I drove hard for the net — it was fast hard hockey,” Dahlen told Sportsnet-650.
Pettersson & Dahlen Reunited?
This offseason will be important as the Canucks evaluate their future, primarily their immediate future. Training camp is the ultimate proving grounds for young players trying to make a name for themselves. Dahlen is well aware of that and the uphill climb ahead.
Dahlen on people who have him on the #Canucks roster next season, "I have to show management that I can earn it, work hard. I am glad people have confidence in me but it starts with a great training camp." #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) April 18, 2018
On the other side of the coin, Pettersson has more than enough skills. His focus will be on physical training as he prepares for the smaller ice, bigger bodies and quicker pace of play. His coach over in the SHL, Sam Hallam, says that patience is the key: “Let him grow into it, he’s a difference-maker but still needs to be physically stronger. It’s tougher in the NHL to get scoring chances. In due time, he will be a top player in the league,” Hallam told Sportsnet-650.
The duo was virtually unstoppable in Sweden but they haven’t been tested elsewhere. Now, for the first time in a year, Pettersson and Dahlen will share a sheet of ice when the Canucks camp commences. One can only hope that they’ll be playing together and showcasing their chemistry.
Is the duo a force to be reckoned with? Let me know your thoughts on the Pettersson/Dahlen connection in the comments below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.