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Nashville Predators’ Top 25 Under 25: #19 Emil Pettersson

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The center has made great progress in short time.

Emil Petterson, #41
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old!

This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2018).

The run of Admirals continues at #19.

The older brother of young phenom (and Canucks’ prospect) Elias Pettersson, Emil has gone from nearly out of the organization to knocking on the NHL door in just a season and a half. After a slow start to the 2016-17 campaign in the SHL - 12 points in 24 games - it appeared as if Pettersson would go unsigned by the organization. But, a mid-season trade to his brother’s Vaxjo club saw him pot 26 points in 27 games and 7 more in 6 playoff contests. It helped earn him an entry-level contract and brought him to Milwaukee in 2017-18.

By The Numbers

Pettersson led the Admirals in scoring this past season and posted a respectable 0.64 points-per-game. On a side note, Pettersson was tied with two others for being the 6th lowest-producing team scoring leader in the AHL in 2017-18.

Pettersson’s 2017-18 GF/60 v. GA/60
@CudmoreColin

For a bad defensive team, Pettersson shined. He helped with 2.103 goals-for per sixty minutes and allowed 2.175 goals-against while on the ice - one of the best ratios on the Admirals.

Pettersson finished 43rd among centers who played over 20 games with 28 primary points and 21st overall in total points with a 10.24 shooting percentage which ranked 106th in the AHL. He was tied for 6th in scoring among forwards under 25 years old.

Pettersson v. Aleksi Saarela, 2017-18
prospect-stats.com

I did my best to find comparable players to Pettersson, but there aren’t many 24-year-old AHL rookies. Warren Foegle & Alexander Volkov produced similar production but are younger as did Aleksi Saarela (shown above). I chose a visualization with Saarela, because he came from the Finnish Liiga which has the closest translation to the NHL as the SHL (where Pettersson came from). You’ll notice Pettersson shoots and scores less than Saarela but still had good production overall in limited ice time.

The Eye-Test

The clip above is a nice goal from Pettersson on the power play. I love how he rotates his body to open up for a pass then rotate back. He fools the goalie into thinking he’s going blocker side and puts it top shelf with a nice wrist shot.

Simple play here. Pettersson does his best to get the puck in deep, takes advantage of a defensive lapse and buries the puck.

Here, Pettersson (the centerman), does an okay job of tying up his opponent, but he does allow him to push the position battle to the slot further complicating Lindback’s screen. He’ll need to work on not just tying up sticks but pushing his opponent to the outside of the zone.

Contractual Obligations

Pettersson is entering the second year of his two-year, entry-level contract with a $742.5K cap hit. His salary in the minors is $70K, and he will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiry.

Future Projection

Pettersson could push for some injury-based call-up time this season. It will be tough to squeeze him into a full-time roster spot over the next few years, but if he has another outstanding year in the AHL, he will get his due in Nashville or somewhere as a bottom-six center.

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com. All contract information is courtesy of capfriendly.com.