Canucks' Elias Pettersson leads Calder Trophy wagering

Calder Trophy odds (As of Oct. 11)

Elias Pettersson: 6.25
Eeli Tolvanen: 9.00
Andrei Svechnikov: 11.00
Rasmus Dahlin: 12.00
Ryan Donato: 13.00


The day before the Vancouver Canucks hit the ice for the start of the 2018-19 regular season, all the talk suddenly became about how the players had banned video games during road trips.

(The Canucks are, as of the writing of this piece, 0-2 away from Rogers Arena since banning Fortnite, by the way. But that’s another story for another day.)

It took only a day, however, for the conversation to shift again, this time to the scintillating play of a 19-year-old rookie by the name of Elias Pettersson.

Stop us if you’ve already heard this, but the Canucks are rather large underdogs to win the Stanley Cup this year. (We apologize for the Captain Obvious moment just now.) How this team will ultimately be judged this season has everything to do with the future, how their young players develop over the next few months and how they fit into plans for a more competitive team a year or two, or three, down the road when the core enters its prime years.

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It has only taken a few games, but Pettersson has vaulted to the top of that list, the headliner for hope. It’s something the Canucks and their fan base needs, and the preseason Calder Trophy favourite is doing a nice job of delivering that so early in the season.

Through three games, Pettersson has three goals – including that beauty under the crossbar in the home opener -- and six points. It’s very early, but that leads all NHL rookies out of the gate. His 37.5 shooting percentage is, of course, going to dip down but the talent level is obvious and if he stays healthy, he should continue to score goals and put up points at a solid clip.

Remember all of those questions about Pettersson’s weight, or a lack of it by NHL standards?

When the season opened, Pettersson is the Calder Trophy favourite with odds of 6.25 at PlayNow.com There was a brief shift in the week leading up to the season. He initially started with odds of 8.00.

The hype hasn’t stopped there. About 69.7 per cent of the money wagered on the Calder Trophy special at the start of the season was on Pettersson to win, along with 50 per cent of total bets. No more than 10.4 per cent of money wagered for this bet was on another player, making Vancouver’s promising young talent the clear betting favourite at PlayNow.com.

Pettersson, taken fifth overall by the Canucks in 2017, enters the league at the same time as Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo and Andrei Svechnikov in Carolina – the first and second overall picks, respectively, in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Dahlin, considered a generational talent on defence, is among the rookie leaders in ice time at 19:26 per game, though he has yet to record a point through three games. Give it time. Svechnikov has two goals and four points in four games on what looks to be a much quicker and far more competitive team in Carolina.

Beyond those players, it could be shaping up to be a highly competitive rookie class. Take, for example, defenceman Dennis Cholowski of the Detroit Red Wings.

Perhaps that’s an unheralded name for folks outside of both Detroit and British Columbia. The 20-year-old Cholowski spent three years with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs before being selected 20th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He has suited up for the Red Wings in three games this season, with three points. That’s a nice start, and he’s done so while playing significant minutes – 22:10 per game, which leads all rookies so far.

The caveat for any and all Calder Trophy contenders at this point is there is plenty of hockey remaining, in the best and most difficult league in the world. Seventy-nine games remaining, if you’re the Canucks. They face the Tampa Bay Lightning – preseason Stanley Cup co-favourites – on the road Thursday.

The locals will always find something to dissect. Some examples a week into the season: Brock Boeser hasn’t had the greatest start compared to what he did a year ago. The defence has struggled. The goaltending has struggled. Surely, there is still the odd joke about Fortnite.  

If Pettersson keeps this up, a healthy dose of Calder Trophy chatter would be a welcomed change during what could be a long season.

That Calder Trophy talk could also be right on the money come the middle of June, when the NHL Awards are handed out.

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