In case you were waiting for official confirmation, it’s here: Elias Pettersson is good. He is very, very good.
It should come as no surprise that after Pettersson’s league-leading, record-breaking, playoff-MVPing season, he was given another handful of hardware by the Swedish Hockey League. While Pettersson didn’t win the prestigious Guldhjälmen, the league MVP as voted by the players, he did win a trio of other awards.
(The winner of the Guldhjälmen, incidentally, was Joakim Lindstrom, who had eight fewer goals and six fewer points than Pettersson, despite playing two more games. He also had just three more points than the next highest scorer on his team, Pär Lindholm. Pettersson had fifteen more points than the next best scorer on the Växjö Lakers. I’m not saying it’s garbage that Pettersson didn’t win, but...okay, I’m definitely saying that.)
Pettersson’s hat trick of prizes started with the Årets Rookie, or Rookie of the Year, which they apparently let Pettersson know he won by ambushing him unexpectedly in his home with flowers.
The look of confusion on his face when he opened the door was utterly legitimate: he had no idea what was going on. That’s a weird way to give out an award, Sweden, unless the award is an oversized novelty cheque and you’re Publisher’s Clearing House.
Aside from showing up at his door unannounced, there was little surprise here: no one else could compare to Pettersson among SHL rookies. The two other rookies nominated were defencemen, Rasmus Dahlin and Joel Persson, but Pettersson’s offensive production gave them little chance.
Next was the Forward of the Year award, which Pettersson was nominated for along with the second and third-leading scorers in the league, Ryan Lasch and Joakim Lindstrom.
Pettersson led the league in scoring despite playing five fewer games than Lasch and two fewer than Lindstrom. On top of that, he averaged two minutes less per game than both his fellow nominees. You could argue that made him a little less valuable to his team, but it also made his offensive production that much more impressive.
Pettersson had nine more goals than Lasch and eight more than Lindstrom. Because so few of his assists were secondary assists, Pettersson also led the SHL in primary points with 45 in 44 games. Yes, that’s right, Pettersson was a better-than point-per-game player even if you only count his goals and first assists. Lasch had 40 primary points, while Lindstrom had 37.
With all that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Pettersson also won the award for Forward of the Year.
Pettersson was congratulated by the legendary Swedish forward Kent Nilsson, whose junior record he broke this year. The “Magic Man” jokingly called Pettersson “din lilla snorunge,” which loosely translates to “a little brat,” for breaking his record.
That left the Mest Värdefulle Spelare or Most Valuable Player award, as voted on by the league. It’s the equivalent of the Hart Trophy in the NHL, while the Guldhjälmen is like the Ted Lindsay, except the prestige of the two awards is reversed in Sweden.
Pettersson was up for the award against Ryan Lasch and goaltender Adam Reideborn, who led the SHL with a sparkling .937 save percentage and 1.58 goals against average. Joakim Lindstrom was not even among the three nominees for the award, but I digress.
Since Pettersson took the Forward of the Year award ahead of Lasch, his main competition was Reideborn. While Reideborn had a fantastic season, Pettersson’s dominance could not be denied and he was named MVP.
“He has stepped up and dominated completely,” says the google-translated SHL website of Pettersson. “Elias Petterson has now been awarded the award Most Most Valuable Player 2018.”
Google Translate has trouble with Swedish sometimes.
Next up for Pettersson is the World Hockey Championships, where he has made Team Sweden’s preliminary roster.
So far, Pettersson has lined up on the wing with Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames at centre and Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings. The preliminary round of the World Hockey Championships kicks off on May 4th, with Sweden facing Belarus in their first game. That game will air on TSN at 11:00 am.