The Vancouver Canucks top centre Elias Pettersson can’t win face-offs. Unfortunately that seems to be the least of his problems lately. “Petey” is a bit discombobulated having not played much hockey dating back to the first NHL Covid season. He played 68 regular season games in 2019-’20 and then 17 playoff games, when he was a key contributor with seven goals, including two game winners, and 18 points. It was an impressive performance as the Canucks won the qualifying round and then the first round.
Since then he played 26 games last season before his ended prematurely with a wrist injury, and then of course he reported late to this campaign’s preseason just over three weeks ago following contract negotiations. The microscope is on him, not only because he’s expected to be a top-line producer, but because he’s now banking $7.35-million US per year in his three-year bridge deal. So what is one to do with Petey?
“Preparation has been a bit different,” Pettersson said after practice Monday. “Last year I got injured, but it is what it is, I’m not living in the past, I’m thinking about what I can do in the moment. Sure, I haven’t started this season the way I wanted to but I mean, that’s life, it doesn’t always go the way you want it to, I’m just gonna work hard and try to make the next game better.”
The question potentially better suited might be, what can the Canucks do for Petey? One: don’t panic. Two: maybe get him a bit of protection, a concept that has pretty much gone out the window in recent years.