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.
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.
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.
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.