Way, way back in 2018, the Calgary Flames selected Norwegian teenager Emilio Pettersen in the sixth round of the NHL Draft. Earlier this week, they signed him to an entry level contact. In the intervening two hockey seasons, Pettersen played for the University of Denver.
We talked to Pettersen’s coach, David Carle, about what we can expect from the 20-year-old winger.
Pettersen entered college at the ripe age of 18, a “true freshman.” He had 30 points in his freshman season, good for second on the Pioneers in scoring behind junior forward Liam Finlay. Then he followed that up with a sophomore campaign with 35 points, leading Denver in scoring and sitting fifth in junior-aged NCAA scoring (behind Alex Newhook, Jack Drury, Cole Caufield and Trevor Zegras).
Needless to say, Carle was impressed with Pettersen’s trajectory.
“When he was playing to his strengths and being a predictable player, he was a really good player for us,” said Carle. “And I think his game was really coming into form, really proud of the effort and the work that he’s put in. He’s made himself a lot better in the last two years and for that we’re really proud of him and excited for him to cheer him on in this next stage of his career.”
Explaining further, Carle noted that in this context “predictable” is a positive attribute.
“Without the puck he got a lot better at pursuing pucks in straight lines, in predictable lines for his teammates to be able to read off of him,” said Carle. “And with the puck I think he did a much better job hanging onto the puck and letting his eyes and his edges and his hands and his brain time to work and to break defenders down. The longer he had the puck on his stick in the offensive zone or off the rush, if he could out-wait defenders, then really good things started to open up.”
Pettersen leaves Denver as a two-time NCHC Academic All-Conference Team honoree, as well as an NCHC Second Team All-Star and one of the conference’s brightest offensive lights. Carle highlighted Pettersen’s drive as something that helped him improve and succeed in college.
“Emilio’s got a relentless pursuit of excellence, I believe,” said Carle. “He wants to play in the NHL. He wants to be a professional hockey player. And even that’s not good enough, he wants to be an impactful NHL player and he wants to leave a mark on every drill he does, every practice he’s a part of, every game, every shift. He’s got a real determined personality to him that I think is what makes him pretty special.”
Pettersen’s the first Norwegian to be signed by the Flames franchise and just the 21st ever drafted by an NHL club. Only eight Norwegians have ever played an NHL game. He hopes to be the ninth.