We are officially one week into the 2018-19 NHL season. In this small sample size, many players have gotten off to hot starts — others not so much. Elias Pettersson and Nikolaj Ehlers are two examples of players having different fortunes to begin the year.
Elias Pettersson: Vancouver Canucks, Centre
Right now, Canuck Elias Pettersson is the early front runner for Rookie of the Year. Through his first three games in the NHL, Pettersson has registered three goals and three assists.
Pettersson has started the season playing alongside fellow youngster Nikolay Goldobin and the vet, Loui Eriksson. So far, this line has been firing on all cylinders. Even though Eriksson is not the same offensive threat he was years ago, he is still able to find the open man and create chances for his line-mates. Look for him to rekindle his offensive prowess from years past and continue to set up the young rookie sniper.
Elias Pettersson is your typical Swedish hockey player; very quick on the ice, good in all three zones and he possesses phenomenal hockey sense. However, the one aspect that sets him a step above is his shot. Pettersson has not been shy to let his wicked wrister fly to start the season. NHL fans got to see this shot first hand in the Canucks first two games where he scored two goals.
Pettersson has also showed he is a complete offensive player. Along with his shot, he has shown great vision on the ice. Pettersson has been able to find the seams to give his teammates scoring opportunities which has resulted in three assists for him to start the season. As Pettersson continues to gain confidence in the NHL, look for his offensive ability to flourish even more and show why the Vancouver Canucks are so high on him.
Finally, the one concern the Canucks had in Pettersson was his size and physical ability. At just 6’2″ and 176 pounds, Pettersson is one of the smallest players on the ice. So far, this has not affected Pettersson at all. The shiftiness and quickness of Pettersson has allowed him to dodge checks, much like Mitch Marner does. As the season goes on, watch for more teams to start paying more attention to him. If Pettersson can adjust to the extra attention he will be given and continue to produce he will be a great point-getter in all fantasy hockey leagues.
Pettersson has shown no signs that he is going to regress. He looks like he will be the offensive force the Canucks knew he could be. If Pettersson can become more physical and relentless it should only improve his already high fantasy value.
Nikolaj Ehlers: Winnipeg Jets, Left Wing
Unlike Pettersson, Ehlers has gotten off to a very slow start. Ehlers has not registered a point in the Jets first 3 games to start the season. To make things even worse, Ehlers is a -1 with only 4 shots on goal.
This is not how the Jets would have envisioned Ehlers’ start to the season. After recording 60 points last year, Ehlers is poised to build off this and establish himself as an offensive threat. So far this year though Ehlers has not been able to find any offense on a stacked forward core for the Jets.
After starting the season in Winnipeg’s bottom six forwards, Ehlers found himself playing alongside Patrik Laine and Bryan Little in the Jets third game of the season. This line found chemistry last year and should be able to reignite the success they had last season. There is no doubt that the demotion to the bottom six lowered his confidence and most likely has a lot to do with the slow start. However, now that he is back with his familiar line-mates there is no reason why Ehlers can not be just as successful as he was last year.
Look for Ehlers to gradually gain more confidence and start producing. He should have no problem finding points playing with one of the best snipers in the game in Laine. If Ehlers still continues to struggle playing on this line then there is cause for concern. However, right now fantasy owners should be patient with Ehlers.
It is hard to gauge a players potential by the first 3 games of the regular season. All of a sudden Ehlers could have a breakout game and go on a big hot streak and vice versa with Pettersson. However these two players are on opposite sides of the spectrum to start the season. We will see if they continue on the same path or start to go in the opposite direction.
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