FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: #18 Emilio Pettersen

Throughout the NHL’s history, all of eight Norwegians have ever suited up for a game. Only two dressed during the 2017-18 season, and only one – Mats Zuccarello – was a regular. The country simply doesn’t produce as much as its Swedish neighbours, and even fellow Scandinavian nation, Denmark, has had more success in generating talent for the sport.

But now, there’s at least one Norwegian the Flames are hoping can break the barrier: Mathias Emilio Pettersen, a 5’10, 170 lb. left-shooting centre the Flames scooped up in the sixth round, 167th overall, with their penultimate pick of the 2018 NHL draft. He comes in at #18 on our top 20 prospects list.

How did we get here?

One of the things that really drives home that Pettersen was born in the year 2000: you can find highlights of his skills, long before he was going to join any developmental leagues, on YouTube. It’s a Gen Z feature we’ll probably see continue to come up over time; for now, though, Pettersen has the distinction of being that kid, dekeing around and through his competition on a dime, who actually got drafted by an NHL team.

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He spent his 2013-14 season playing in Norway’s U16 league, scoring 71 points over 20 games played. The next year, he made the jump to North America, kicking off his 14-year-old season playing for the Selects Hockey Academy in the U16 USPHL. In 2014-15 he scored 41 points in 28 games, 20th league-wide; in 2015-16 upped that to 36 points in 21 games, good for ninth and behind players who all played more games than he did.

Also during the 2015-16 season he played in the Midget Division, scoring 65 points over 40 games: tied for 17th league-wide. He also suited up to represent Norway at the Division 1 U18s, during which he scored five points in five games, tied for second on his team and sixth tournament-wide.

Pettersen, having turned 16, joined the USHL for the 2016-17 season, playing for the Omaha Lancers. He scored 27 points in 57 games for them, fourth in team scoring as the Lancers finished sixth in the Western Conference, failing to make the playoffs. He also once again played for Norway at the Division 1 U18s, this time wearing an “A” and upping his scoring to 12 points in five games, leading not just Norway, but the entire tournament in scoring.

For his draft year in 2017-18, Pettersen stayed in the USHL, joining the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He continued to improve, scoring 46 points in 60 games: tied for third in team scoring, and 25th league-wide. The Lumberjacks finished third in the Eastern Conference, but fell in the playoffs; Pettersen failed to score a single point in any of the three games he played. Still, though, he caught the Flames’ eye, and they selected him in the sixth round.

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Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Pettersen has played two seasons in the USHL (primary and strength numbers via prospect-stats):

Games played Goals Assists Points Primary points 5v5 points 5v5 primary
2016-17 57 10 17 27 17 16 10
2017-18 60 14 32 46 31 27 19

With a similar number of games played, Pettersen’s numbers jumped up across the board from one season to the next, so there’s reason to be encouraged by his progress to date. In 2016-17, his ratio of 5v5 primary points to total points was .37; that jumped up to .41 the following season.

For a deeper dive into Pettersen’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup on him here.

Those in the know

Mike Hamilton probably knows more about Pettersen than any of us, considering how he’s the Lumberjacks’ head coach, and has worked with Pettersen over the past season:

Emilio is a focused and driven hockey player. He constantly takes advantage of optional ice and any extra instruction offered. … His hard work and dedication paid dividends individually and in the success of the team. Emilio was a huge part of the Lumberjacks making the playoffs in back to back seasons. Emilio is a very skilled hockey player with a passion for the game. He will be missed in Muskegon, we wish Emilio the best of the luck on the ice and in the classroom at Denver University.

And then there’s Ray Edwards, the Flames’ director of development:

He was a bit of a YouTube sensation a few years ago, so he’s been in the spotlight for a while. I think he’s known what he’s wanted for a while, and he’s been on a path to achieve it. This is just another step in his journey and again, really good program, really excited about where he’s going to be.

On the horizon

Pettersen has consistently improved on a year-to-year basis, but now that he’ll be entering his 18-year-old season, it’s time to go up a level and enter the NCAA. He’ll be playing for the Denver Pioneers, a program with strong showings and a history of success. As a freshman it’ll be interesting to see how much ice time he gets, and just how well he’ll be able to adjust to this new level in his fifth season of North American hockey.

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Perhaps even more interesting, though, will be how he responds in his sophomore season, and any and all NCAA seasons he plays thereafter. The growth has been there – where it’ll top out remains a mystery, but hopefully, he’ll continue to improve, as he has consistently done to date.

#20 – Martin Pospisil #19 – Demetrios Koumontzis


  • Baalzamon

    scoring 71 points over 20 games played.

    I realize that’s a pretty low-tier league, but this stat line is just bonkers.

    I was kind of hoping last years’ draftees would be ranked in backwards order… looks like Pettersen and Roman are flipped, though. Oh well.

  • Just.Visiting

    This is about where I had expected to see Eetu Tuulola placed. I was hoping we would have taken the rangy English Liam Kirk in this spot. He ended up going to Arizona and was subsequently chosen high in the junior draft and will be playing in the OHL with the Petes this year.

    Going to a good school, but would have liked this pick much more if he were bigger or dominant.

  • Off the wall

    Well it appears as if I owe someone an apology.
    My bestest friend ( Lucky 13) is upset with me..again.

    However, I’m going to preface this by saying, “ It’s partially my wife’s fault “

    We were invited yesterday to go out to my wife’s friends house with among other guests. I was so hyped about the Bryout, that I wore my new Flames cap and shirt to the party. I was eager to talk hockey.

    My wife told me my buddy, Ryan was going to be there and although he’s a Predator fan, we have great conversations all the time.

    Well, he wasn’t there. I had to talk about SUP. What the heck is SUP? Stand up paddle boarding.

    Good gawd, like I wanna talk about standing up like ‘Karate Kid’, trying to maintain my balance, while paddling on the water! Tether me to a paddle board and hook me up to a speed boat, that sounds like more fun to me.

    Then I had to listen to a guy tell me how he has made millions being a financial advisor. Between his fake veneer teeth and perfect hair, my eyes rolled back like a shark wanting to take a bite out of him. He even threw in, “ I’ve made some NHL players good money” I asked him “ who” and he claimed is was “confidential”. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

    After pretending to be nice, I decided to go see what the kids downstairs were doing. They were all playing, and I noticed a guitar, so I asked the young lad if I could play it. These kids were fun! Way more fun than the adults.

    I played Christmas songs for them, while teaching them about the Bryout. What else you gunna do with young kids, right?

    They ate it up and I got my fix of hockey talk. My wife wasn’t too impressed that the kids were singing “jingle bells, Brouwer smells” but I was as happy and the kids loved it.

    So, I’m sorry Lucky for texting the crap out of you last night.
    I just wanted a diversion from the other adults. Thank gawd, there was kids to have fun with.

    I still love ya pal..

  • Sterls

    I really hope Pettersen turns into a Flames regular, not only because I love seeing low draft picks make it big, but my wife is Norwegian and it would do a lot to get her interested in the Flames. We go to the Ranger’s game every year because of Zuccarello. So, do me a solid kid and make it so I can get her a Flames Jersey to replace that blue thing in my closet 🙂