Up next in our features on 2018 Flames draftees is Mathias Emilio Pettersen, Norwegian YouTube sensation.
The kid has been in the spotlight (relatively speaking) before he hit junior high, and been thoroughly scouted throughout the entire time. Having already torn up Norway’s U16 league at age 13, he headed to American prep schools at age 14 and eventually found his way to the USHL. The 5’10, 170 lbs centre has been tabbed as one to watch, as his developing offensive prowess could prove valuable in the future.
The Flames are no stranger to drafting smallish offensive weapons in the sixth round. Could Pettersen be another late gem?
Numbers and such
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Pettersen was a pretty consistent contributor for Muskegon. Besides a slow start where he only scored two points in nine games, he became a regular point per game contributor for the rest of the season, his longest drought after that lasting three games.
There’s a few red flags with Pettersen though. He was pretty reliant on powerplay scoring (16), which is always a concern. Pettersen also picked up a lot of secondary points along the way, scoring 15 primary assists compared to 17 secondary assists. Those aren’t numbers indicative of a guy who will be in the NHL.
Another issue with Pettersen is that he played on a pretty good Muskegon team, one of the USHL’s highest scoring outfits. Although 46 points is a pretty good number, that only meant he contributed on 22.89% of all Muskegon goals. His other issues with 5v5 scoring and primary points generation also show up here. He was only involved in 14.42% of 5v5 goals. Factoring in primary contributions, he was only the main factor on 17.5% of AS goals, and 12.5% of 5v5 goals. Pettersen likely benefited from being on a great team. Although he certainly has his merits, a deeper dive reveals a few issues with Pettersen’s performances.
Relative to his draft class, Pettersen fares quite well. Of the 53 first-time eligible USHL forwards (20 GP minimum), Pettersen ranks ninth in points per game, and 15th in primary points per game. His production was still top-end when you consider the context of him being a 17-year-old USHLer. However, those numbers drop to 15th in P/GP and 18th in P1/GP when only looking at 5v5 numbers. His estimated 5v5 P/60 is also 25th among first time eligibles, which is not great.
In other competitions, Pettersen was the leading scorer at the Div 1A World Juniors, finishing with 12 points in five games. Competition in that tournament included Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, and Kazakhstan, so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s still a positive note.
Pettersen is heading to the University of Denver, a program he’s been committed to since he was 15.
The Pioneers are undergoing a rebuild phase, having lost their head coach to the NHL as well as a few of their better players. Pettersen is in a good spot to step in and steal the spotlight, but he has to show more than what he has at the USHL level. Being a secondary scorer as he gets older isn’t going to get him much closer to the NHL. If he’s a burgeoning offensive weapon, Pettersen is simply going to have to show more.
Pettersen is likely going to be a longer term project. He’s had some promising USHL years but is far from a complete player as it stands; he’ll likely need three years before signing in the NHL is even an idea. Hopefully he can become more than a complementary player at the NCAA level.
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