FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2019: #5 Emilio Pettersen

Emilio Pettersen hopes to be the next Scandinavian sensation for the Flames.

Hailing from the less hockey inclined Norway, he’s taken an odd route to the spotlight, but has established himself regardless. The 5’10”, 172 pound forward (listed as a C, played RW for Denver, shoots left, so he can theoretically fit in anywhere) had an astounding freshman season in college, putting up 30 points in 40 games as a top line player in one of the NCAA’s toughest conferences.

Thanks to his high hockey IQ and his sweet skills, Pettersen has jumped from #18 on last year’s countdown to #5.

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How did we get here?

You’ve probably heard the story before, but the hockey world was first introduced to the Norwegian via YouTube:

Unsatisfied with his five minutes and fifty seconds of hockey fame, Pettersen moved over to the US at 14 years old to continue working his way into the upper echelon of hockey. He immediately made an impression, scoring 41 points in 28 games in prep league hockey and earning an offer from the University of Denver. At age 15, he picked up 65 points in 40 games in a tougher prep league and also represented Norway for the first time, scoring five points in five games during the U18 WJC-D1A tournament, tied for second on the team.

His USHL experience wasn’t as grand. Although Pettersen was pretty productive for a 16 year old, picking up 27 points in 57 games with the Omaha Lancers, he had a rough draft year. It wasn’t awful – he did score 46 points in 60 games and was the leading scorer for Norway at the U18 WJC-D1A- but scouts expected more and he finished relatively poorly in the pre-draft rankings (anywhere from 120th to 198th). He fell to the Flames in the sixth round at pick #167.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

A lot of the concerns surrounding Pettersen were put to bed after his freshman season.

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Games Played Goals Assists Points
40 6 24 30

Emilio won a top line spot out of camp and proved that it was no fluke shortly after. He scored three points in his college debut and earned a Rookie of the Month nod for October. Pettersen wasn’t able to keep up the furious start, but he became a reliable contributor for Denver throughout the season. He saw heavy power play time, starting with Denver’s first unit, but was bumped to the second unit to spread the scoring out.

Pettersen finished second on his team in scoring, a feat made more impressive considering that he was also the youngest Pioneer forward on the roster. Everyone else had years of experience on him, yet he rose to the top. Relative to the rest of the NCAA, Pettersen finished fourth in freshman scoring, and second among true freshman (2000 born) behind Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee.

Those in the know 

Denver’s head coach David Carle offers his take on Pettersen’s freshman season:

It went well. We believe he got better in a lot of areas, while also having a large impact on our team’s success. His willingness to learn and to try and improve along with his work ethic allowed him to have a great first year.

And what does he need to improve on?

Continue to add strength, can be more of shooting threat, and controlling his emotions.

Carle also mentioned that Pettersen’s role this coming season should be expanded to include PK work too.

On the horizon

Pettersen’s heading back to college for his sophomore season, as expected.

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As Carle mentioned, Pettersen is going to have an expanded role and should be one of the team leaders this season. He’ll be on the ice in all scenarios and will certainly be leaned on to provide scoring. It’s a tough ask for a second year player to take over a potential championship contender, but his freshman season suggests that he’ll be extremely capable of doing so.

Depending on his performance, Pettersen might be in line for a contract at the end of the year, though the chances are slim. Aside from the blue chip prospects, most college players don’t sign until after their third season. If he can work his way into that conversation, great, but don’t bet on him being under contract for 2020-21.


    • freethe flames

      Means he is a teenager who when things don’t goes his way he gets frustrated. At least that is what I figure after having been a teacher and coach for 30 years.

      • HOCKEY83

        i guess that’s true unless its a cheap signing and someone else gets sent down or traded away. I’d rather let Dube have a chance to show what he can do.

        • Albertabeef

          Sending down a bigger contract only really saves you the money you need to replace that player with a low cost player. Barring a trade or Gio retiring we are pretty much capped out whenever these last two sign. Don’t know why Mange is taking so long to sign. Most PTO’s are just to bring in enough bodies to make two or sometimes three full practice teams. This is why we see team A, B, and C at camp. I wouldn’t expect Tre to keep any this year, not for the big team anyways. I expect Dube on the opening night roster and don’t see a need to fear that right now. Quine and Lomberg can be extra forwards. If the Flames need to send Dube down just to save a couple hundred grand I will be starting up my “Fire Tre” rant again lol. 975k for Dube(assumption without looking it up) vs 800k for Lomberg. What a mess. The NHL needs a “contract restructuring” option, so a player can take a pay cut for the team to open up cap space like the NFL does. But I think Chucky should take the 6.5milx2 that we have left with Mange getting 1 mil. Leaves us with 250k left over.

  • Baalzamon

    Interesting fact: 5 of Pettersen’s 6 goals were on the powerplay.

    Also it seems odd that he would have played RW, considering Denver’s first and third leading scorers are both listed as RWs.

    • Albertabeef

      I think that’s good for the powerplay, but kinda depressing he only scored one even strength goal all season. He could be another Joe Thornton, a guy who get 10 goals but 90 assists every year.

      • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

        Normally these numbers would worry me, but considering that it’s getting rarer and rarer to see True Freshman in the incredibly strong NCHC (Jacob Bernard-Docker and Slava Demin were literally the only other two impactful True Freshman in the NCHC, outside of Petterson) the fact that Petterson was as productive as he was is a gpositive. We’ll see what the Even Strength numbers look like next year when he’s a more appropriate 19 years old for the NCHC.

        For those wondering most NHLe formulas have the league strength of the NCHC as a 0.40-0.42, as a comparison the AHL is usually around a 0.46. So the NCHC literally is only a minor step up from the AHL if anything, considering that Petterson had 0.75 PPG at only 18 years old in such a deep league it’s a HUGE POSITIVE.

  • TKO

    “….Finished second among true freshman (2000 born) behind Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee.”
    worth noting that Farabee was selected first round, 14th overall

  • Garth

    Perhaps the best of a large group of level B prospects. Totally understandable given the high profile trades in recent years that involved several of our 1st & 2nd rounders. Time to rebuild those cupboards Mr. Treliving.

  • The GREAT WW

    I don’t have anything against Pettersen or small players in general, but we have WAY too many of them in our system.

    When the top 20 prospect list is complete let’s have a look at how many we have.
    Include Dube, Mangiapane, Phillips too.

    It’s the Gaudreau effect; we are trying to catch lightning in a bottle again…