After falling back in the draft lottery for two straight years, Vancouver Canucks fans still have hope.
Who needs the draft lottery anyway?
When they lost out in 2016, missing out on both Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, fans were rightfully disappointed. Olli Juolevi could still turn out to be a great player, but the Canucks were still lacking elite offensive firepower.
Well, it looks like they’ve found some elite offense and they didn’t need the draft lottery to do it.
Brock Boeser has taken the city by storm with his burning hot start. Over in Sweden, Elias Pettersson is outperforming his age by a mile. With these two players, Canucks fans should be excited.
Brock Boeser Bringing It
The most exciting part of Boeser’s game is that he’s creating plays that this city has never seen before.
The Canucks have had some great players come through their organization as rookies over the years. Even if the didn’t light it up right away, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure had impressive rookie debuts. Although that might be a slight at the Canucks’ mediocre 47-year history, the important thing here is that Boeser is on pace to shatter some records.
With 21 points through his first 19 games, Boeser is on pace for 45 goals and 87 points in his rookie campaign. That would obliterate rookie records set by both Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka when they totaled 60 points during their rookie campaigns in Vancouver.
Boeser has that elite ability to shoot the puck at will with extreme accuracy, something that can’t be taught. You could argue that the Canucks haven’t had a sniper of his caliber since Markus Naslund, or even since Bure.
There is reason to believe that he will slow down as the season progresses. Players out of college typically slacken their pace as rookies because they’re not used to the NHL grind. It happened to both Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher in their first campaigns.
Looking towards the future though, Boeser is the type of draft day steal that can turn a franchise around. Right now, he could be the best player out of that draft aside from Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. He’s done nothing to quench the Calder hype.
Pettersson a Point Machine
Some were leery when Jim Benning selected Elias Pettersson at fifth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry. The rail-thin Swedish forward had elite offensive ability but his size scared teams away. While he had a stellar season with Timra in Allsvenskan heading into the draft, Petterson raised the bar even higher in his draft-plus-one season.
Pettersson leads the Swedish Elite League with 24 points through his first 19 games. Even after putting up nearly a point per game in Allsvenskan, he’s shattered all of the expectations set for him heading into this season.
The only player that scored anywhere near Petterson’s pace as a rookie at that level was William Nylander, who scored just under a point per game. He’s also outscored Peter Forsberg, Naslund and both Sedins during their draft plus-one seasons in the SHL.
His remarkable production is elevating hopes even higher that the organization has found another elite offensive weapon without winning the draft lottery. It’s created an unmissable buzz in this city.
Enough Elite Talent?
When you look at the Canucks’ prospect pool highlighted by these two players you might wonder, is it enough? If Petterson and Boeser are top-line players, do the Canucks have enough of a supporting cast to get back to elite status?
Unless Pettersson pulls a Boeser and lights up the NHL in a similar fashion, it’s still hard to expect the team to get back to Cup-contending status anytime soon. However, there is enough optimism to envision the scenario.
Although Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat are carrying the team as the top line, they might be better second line players by the time Pettersson comes around. If any of Jonathan Dahlen, Nikolay Goldobin or Kole Lind are able to stick around in the top six the Canucks will be in good shape.