By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks drafted Marcus Pettersson in the second round last year and he is one of the top defensive prospects in the Ducks’ system.
Pettersson had an up and down season, playing on several different teams at multiple levels of hockey. He played in the SHL for Skelleftea AIK, in the SuperElit for Skelleftea AIK J20, and in the Allsvenskan for HC Vita Hasten. Pettersson was only 18 last season, which is one of the reasons why he bounced around so much. It’s hard for an 18-year-old to adjust to professional hockey, especially when they play defense, and Pettersson is no exception to that rule. He only played in 14 games in the SHL and went scoreless. The SuperElit is the highest level of junior hockey in Sweden, and works similar to how the AHL does in North America, although it’s not a perfect comparison. However, in this case, it does fit, as Pettersson struggled against professional players and was sent down to play against other players his own age. He played in 20 games in the SuperElit and scored two goals and 10 points. More importantly than his offensive production, Pettersson just looked more comfortable on the ice and was arguably too good for that league. As a result, Pettersson was loaned to HC Vita Hasten in the Allsvenskan. The Allsvenskan is the second highest level of hockey in Sweden, and Pettersson appeared in 10 games and scored two goals and four points. In the Allsvenskan, Pettersson looked much better than he did in the SHL and was able to play more minutes and in much more important situations. So while it was a step back in terms of league difficulty, it was a good thing for Pettersson to be able to get more playing time.
This coming season, Pettersson will be returning to Sweden. It’s currently unclear exactly where he’ll be playing, but I’m hoping that he is able to appear in the SHL on a much more consistent basis. He could get some games in the SuperElit again, or even loaned back to the Allsvenskan, but he has all the tools to succeed in the SHL. He’s got great vision, great size, a good poke check, and a great first pass. If he can play in the SHL on a consistent basis and get solid minutes, it will be a successful season for him.
Pettersson is very tall and lanky, which leads to some of his greatest strengths, as well as some of his greatest weaknesses. At 6’ 3”, he has the size to be an NHL player and uses it effectively in terms of positioning on the ice. However, he is not very physical and weighs less than 170 pounds. If he wants to succeed at the NHL level, he’s going to need at least 30 pounds, or more, of muscle.
Pettersson was drafted as a project. The Ducks have a lot of young defensemen on their roster, and have a few young prospects who should be ready to step into the NHL in the next season or two. Pettersson is still several years away, so he fits in nicely in terms of when the Ducks will need his services. The Ducks signed him to an entry-level contract back in June, so they won’t lose his rights after this upcoming season. When his contract expires he’ll be a restricted free agent and unless his game completely falls apart, the Ducks will re-sign him. Pettersson will play in Sweden next year, and possibly the year after that, meaning we may not see him in North America until the 2017-18 season in San Diego.
Depending on where he is in his development cycle, he’ll probably need time to adjust to the North American game and I don’t think he’ll make his NHL debut until he has spent a good amount of time in the AHL. As a result, I don’t believe we’ll see him with the Ducks for at least three or four years. He has all the tools to be a very effective top four defenseman, but he will need to get much stronger if he wants to make it there.
My next prospect update will be on Josh Manson.
We have been tracking the off-season status of the Ducks prospects. If you want more information about a specific prospect, then please visit here: Ducks Prospects: Summer Updates
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