It’s 2020, friends. A new year. A new decade. A new mailbag. Let’s do this.

(In case the tweet embed is wonky here, this question is referring to hotshot college prospect Emilio Pettersen at the University of Denver.)

Through 20 games, Pettersen has 4 goals and 19 points. That’s 0.2 goals per game (a jump from 0.15 last season) and 0.95 points per game (a jump from 0.75 last season). He’s improving to the point where he’s one of Denver’s most impressive and important players. If the question in his draft year was “Yeah, but can he turn his USHL success into NCAA success?”, the answer is a definitive “Yes.”

The next step is seeing if he can do it in pro hockey. The closest comparable for size and style I can give is perhaps Andrew Mangiapane, though Pettersen might have a bit more offensive flash and a little bit less two-way presence.

We’ll see what Pettersen has left to accomplish in college after this season. He’s earned the right to call his shot as to his immediate future, but his performance in the NCAA to date suggest that he might be ready for a bigger challenge. (There have been frequent reports, notably from TSN’s Frank Seravalli, of Flames presences at Denver games so they’re well-aware of how he’s doing.)

I bristle at the term “true first line center” sometimes because it’s hard to really say what that is. I mean, Sean Monahan has been the team’s top center pretty much since 2014-15 and the only player who’s going to supplant him these days might be Elias Lindholm. There are 31 NHL teams and they all have somebody that’s their best center. If the idea is that the “true” number one center is the guy who would be top pivot on any NHL club, there aren’t many of them in the NHL at all.

On this team, it’s gonna either be Monahan or Lindholm. The Flames don’t have many centers in their system. In terms of whether a team can win without a “true” top guy, I’d observe that the tendency league-wide is moving towards two or three good lines and not relying too much on one top guy to win. You can see that a bit now with how Geoff Ward is mixing the lines, there’s a trend towards spreading things out and making line matching more difficult.

That said, life sure would be a lot easier if the Flames had a Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby or Nathan MacKinnon on their top line.

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation – who are running the show for the new building – will be conducting public engagement for the new barn beginning later this month. The city’s home page for the “Event Centre” is the best place to keep an eye on for specifics on dates, times and venues for the public engagement.