NHL Rumors: Elias Pettersson’s future with the Vancouver Canucks

Today’s NHL Rumors follows up on the latest regarding how Elias Pettersson recently stated he’s in no rush to sign an extension with the Vancouver Canucks, making for an interesting season in British Columbia. 

Last year, the Canucks were a disaster on and off the ice, losing their first seven games. Although they were able to right the ship a little with a 16-17-3 record by the end of December, it was painfully clear that the 2022-23 season was going to be a write-off. 

However, that wasn’t the worse part; the Canucks then created a PR nightmare for themselves by letting the firing of head coach Bruce Boudreau drag on for weeks. After starting 2023 with a 2-8-0 record, the team finally hired Rick Tocchet on January 22 to take over, ending one of the worst coaching releases in recent memory. 

Surprisingly, the team responded with a new voice, finishing the year with a 20-12-4 record, and Pettersson finally scored over 100 points (102) for the first time in his career. Interestingly, heading into the last year of his current deal, and on the books for $7.35 million, his focus isn’t on negotiations but just playing through the season and seeing things unfold after. 

Elias Pettersson has strong Swedish connections in Vancouver

Elias Pettersson covid
Feb 21, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (40) skates against the Winnipeg Jets in the third period at Rogers Arena. Jets won 4-3 in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone most likely remembers how Swedish superstars Henrik and Daniel Sedin used to terrorize netminders across the league with a sixth sense about finding each other on the ice. After becoming the top two scorers in franchise history, the duo remained with the Canucks organization upon retirement and now serve as special advisors to the league’s first Swedish general manager, Patrik Allvin. 

Historically, the Canucks have strong connections with Swedish players, once employing Thomas Gradin, Markus Naslund, Jacob Markstrom, Alex Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mattias Ohlund, and even Mats Sundin briefly. Although the team is a little light with Nordic skaters today, with just Nils Hoglunder and Nils Aman left, Pettersson should feel at home with a franchise committed to ensuring their Scandivanian players succeed.

NHL Rumors: Canucks could look different after 2023-24 season

In 2022-23, Pettersson finally scored over 100 points, becoming the first player in 12 seasons to reach the century mark. If he can duplicate that success in 2023-24, he’ll get a raise from the current $7.35 million he’s making and could negotiate a deal worth at least $10 million. 

However, Pettersson won’t be the only big-name player looking for a new deal at the end of the season, with Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 million), Teddy Blueger ($1.9 million), Tyler Myers ($6 million), Filip Hronek ($4.4 million) and Ian Cole ($3 million) all playing on expiring contracts this year. Considering the Canucks are a long shot to contend for a playoff spot, a lot of these players are going to have to play their best hockey in hopes of landing another deal at their current salaries. 

Currently, the Canucks are over the cap by $4.984,167 million, but they still have time to move some contracts around and become complacent. But, even with the salary cap expected to increase over the next few seasons, it will be interesting to see how the Pettersson situation plays out and whether they can afford him and retain or acquire talented players to surround him with. 

Although J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes make more money than Pettersson, he is the centerpiece of their offense, and keeping him in Vancouver long-term will be one reason the team contends for their first Stanley Cup someday. Despite the organization focusing on Sweden personnel to construct a winner, there’s no guarantee that the country’s current best player on the team will avoid an offer sheet and remain with the only team he’s ever known. 

Realistically, depending on how the team responds to an entire season with Tocchet behind the bench, these next 82 games will define the next chapter in the team’s future. Ultimately, the wins and losses will determine whether they retain one of their most valuable assets since the Sedins came to town in 1999.

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