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.”