27Emilio Pettersen
Photo Credit: Brandon Anderson/USHL

Emilio Pettersen hoping to build on strong freshman season

In recent years, the Calgary Flames’ amateur scouting team seems to keep finding gems in the later rounds of the NHL Draft. Promising prospects like Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Phillips and Filip Sveningsson have been selected late, and Emilio Pettersen seems poised to join their ranks.

Selected 167th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, Pettersen (pronounced “Peter-son”) was likely best known as a young Norwegian kid who had dazzled on YouTube as a youngster. Despite his level of notoriety, he moved to North America five years ago to follow his dreams. He parlayed a strong stint in the United States Hockey League into a draft selection, and then transitioned to the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers for the 2018-19 campaign.

“We had a solid year there with a good team, it was a really good experience,” said Pettersen of his freshman experience. “I thought the biggest difference was knowing what to do with the puck at certain times. Playing both sides of the puck. For me, it was figuring out what I could do against bigger, strong guys and use the best of my abilities to make the best [play] possible.”

In his first college campaign, Pettersen amassed six goals and 30 points for a pretty strong University of Denver squad. He was among the national leaders in scoring for his age group and narrowly missed the cut for his conference All-Rookie Team. Reflecting on the season, he remains much more focused on team success.

“I wasn’t really thinking about making the rookie team or anything like that,” said Pettersen. “All I was focused on really was winning a national championship. We got close, and can’t really do much about it now.”

While the Pioneers will be chasing down a berth in the Frozen Four tournament in the spring, it’s looking likely that that Pettersen will be headed to Belarus in early December. A proud Norwegian, he’ll be playing out his junior eligibility at the Division 1A World Juniors – trying to help his native Norway get promoted to the “main” World Juniors division.

“I think I’m going to do that,” said Pettersen. “It’s always a privilege to play for your country. I’m really excited, and excited to see what kind of team we’re bringing this year.”

Rather quietly, Pettersen was one of the top young players in all of American college hockey in 2018-19. Based on his early success, it’s natural to be curious about his path to the pros. Pettersen seems focused on taking things as they come.

“For me, the time frame is basically to see how good I can get the time I’m spending in Denver,” said Pettersen. “If that takes four years, it takes four years. I’m ready when Calgary says I’m ready and when my coaches in Denver say I’m ready. So, I’m in a good spot right now and I’m going to keep working hard.”



  • freethe flames

    He might be our top prospect not in the system. Based upon what we saw in the scrimmage he is highly skilled, highly competitive, and confident. I could see him jumping into the NHL right our of college after his junior year(2 more seasons of NCAA) time in which he can grow stronger and become more of a man. The one good thing about the NCAA is that while they play fewer games than the CHL the players have more time to physically train and get stronger. This is one area in which both he and the Greek Freak will grow this year. See a comment on topic. How long can we keep this up?

  • freethe flames

    If one takes a look at the prospects upfront one can be hopeful that the Flames might have some depth down the road. On the left side we have Pettersen, Pelltier, Sveningsson, the Greek Freak(Koumontzis), Pospisil, Ruzicka and Kirkland. The top 4 will likely get another development year or two before their contracts kick in; meanwhile the later 3 will toil in the AHL for the Heat. I wonder if playing against men will be just the tonic for Ruzicka to become more consistent; he sure has the tools but does he have the will.
    On the RS we have Phillips, Gawdin both with AHL experience, ET and Philip both older AHL rookies and Zavgorodny(back to the chl) who did not take part in the scrimmage(ET was not there as well). It will be interesting to see how they grow in the AHL this year and how they are used in the AHL.

    This off course does not include the rest of our draft picks this year and teh Euros who are staying overseas but these are what I think the best hopes for the future. But in reality with a few exceptions a year or more away of being in the NHL.

  • freethe flames

    The exciting thing about these young guys is that they may turn pro just when we loss some key players. I suspect we have Johnny two more years; I doubt he is a life long Flame so I suspect he gets moved while he still has value. None of these kids will likely replace Johnny but combined they could fill parts of the gap created by his likely departure. Time of course will tell but it is not as bleak up front as it is on D now that all the top prospects have graduated to the NHL; here’s hoping that Yelesin, Lerby and the others develop.

    • Flameon13

      With Hanifin, Ras, Kylington, and Vali all young and good enough for main roster duties I’d say our defense of the future is pretty bright right now and will give us loads of time to refill the cabinets. I agree though that probably none of the kids would be able to replace johnny if he decided to leave, but few players really could though I am really excited to see how Mangi will look going forward this year given some more ice time with some more offensively talented linemates we might be pleasantly surprised by what he could do. I’m also excited to see what Zagidulin can do this year I’m not sure I’d place him above Parsons yet but he has promise.

  • SouthernFlame

    I might have to head to Stockton to see a game or two this season. I agree with you 100% FtF. Its gonna be interesting to see what kind of roster we have 2 seasons from now, Johnny will fetch a good return from Philly and with the expansion draft coming up.

  • Baalzamon

    Two years in a row the Flames have ended up drafting players I’d had my eye on from early in the year and liked. This draft past it was Wolf, and in 2018 it was Pettersen.

    Supposedly he was dynamite in the scrimmage the other day, and he looked mighty impressive in the highlights. I’m really excited to see how this young man progresses in the coming years.

    I only have one question… why Emilio? If it were me I’d be going by Mathias.

  • Off the wall

    You have to appreciate Pettersen’s attitude. He’s not claiming anything, he’s willing to let the Flames’ decide if he’s going to take the next step.

    At least the Denver Pioneers have a good program. Here’s hoping he becomes the player we were looking to trade for, Zucker, another Denver Alumni.

    • Flameon13

      Really like the kid, if he is putting the decision in the Flames hand wouldn’t it be better to get him into Stockton now rather than later? He would probably get better experience in Stockton and wouldn’t have the worries of studies taking up apart of his time giving him even more time to refine his skills and to get stronger.

      • freethe flames

        I think he is better served with at least one more year in the NCAA. There are a couple of reasons for this. One he will be playing mostly against men 20-23 year olds, two he does not burn a year on an entry level contract, three NCAA programs spend a lot of time on strength development as they don’t play as many games IMO that is more important for him than games played. Just my thoughts.

        • Albertabeef

          NCAA players need to keep grades at a certain level, so I think they spend more time in class and studying than working out. CHL players that have been drafted are most likely done school and can concentrate on hockey alone. Makes a big difference for some.

          As for ELC and burning a year, he does not have an ELC to burn yet. In fact NCAA rules say you can’t play in the NCAA if you have signed a pro contract. If he was ready for pro, burning a year off an ELC is not that big of a deal. As long as that ELC year is not burnt off in the “Johnny Hockey one game” way, I’d be okay with it.

          • freethe flames

            i spent @15 years involved with university sports in Canada and I can tell you that as long as student athlete is relatively intelligent and well organized they find enough time to work on their game and their fitness. The US programs are even more fine tuned and they have a lot of support for their star athletes in all of their major sports.

          • freethe flames

            AB AthIeticaly I agree with you but the academic standards at many Canadian universities are much more difficult than the USA. The NCAA also spends lots of money helping their stars stay in school b/c their stars make their universities big money. For many of the kids in the uSA there is more pressure to perform on the court, ice, and field than in the class room. Many kids take the minimum classes in the season and then go back to finish their degrees. I have spoken with hundreds of Student athletes who have chosen the NCAA and the pressure seemed to come more form the sports than the class rooms.