2014 NHL Draft Profile #40: Marcus Pettersson

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Marcus Pettersson has made an impressive transition from centre to defence over the last two years in Sweden.  While he is very raw and there is still a lot for him to learn after being a forward until the age of 16, Pettersson has very strong tools and could become an excellent two-way defender going forward.  Pettersson has played for Sweden at the Under 17 Hockey Challenge, helping Sweden to the 2013 Gold medal.  He also played at the U18 World Championships.

Pettersson plays for Skellefteå where he spent most of the season on their under-20 squad, but did get in 10 games at the SHL level, playing against men, in some limited minutes. 

Marcus Pettersson

Defense — shoots Left
Born May 8 1996 — Skelleftea, Sweden
Height 6.04 — Weight 161 [193 cm/73 kg]

The first thing you notice about Marcus Pettersson is how tall and lanky he is.  Listed at 6’4″ and just 161 lbs, those numbers seem unbelievable on the page, that they must be a typo, but when you watch him, you realize that they might just be true.   The next thing you notice when watching Petterson is very good mobility.  He is a very strong skater, especially for his height.  He is quick both going forward and backward; has excellent agility and very solid pivots and edgework.  He has decent balance given the lankiness (its still below average, but not as much as you’d expect), this will get a lot better as he adds muscle and core strength.

Being a former centre, the offensive ability in Pettersson’s game is apparent.  He can lead the rush or join as a trailer, and has the skating to make up for any bad pinches or rushes he might make.  Pettersson’s stickhandling and poise are very good, and he has the vision and passing ability to start the transition game or to quarterback the powerplay.  Petterson also has a very good wrist shot, and quick release, as well as hard slap-shot and one-timer ability.  His hockey sense in the offensive zone is well above average, and he finds and exploits openings in the opposing team’s defensive game.

Defensively, there is some raw skill, but Pettersson is also a work in progress.  His mobility makes him excellent in defending against the rush, and he is very difficult to beat one-on-one.  He also has a good, active stick and the ability to anticipate plays and break them up.  In terms of positioning, he does appear to be improving, but he will be a project needing some good coaching going forward.  Pettersson is not physical, and its unclear if this is due to his lankiness and will improve when he gains strengths, or if it is something that he is not comfortable with as he doesn’t want to get caught out of position, or if he just will never grow into being a physical player.   It really is difficult to evaluate and project how that part of his game will develop.

In terms of style, Petterson is comparable to Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens, especially earlier in his career.  The two were both centres converted to play defence in their teenage years.  This isn’t to say he has the same sort of talent as Markov, merely to be a stylistic comparison.  This is a pick with serious boom or bust potential, the tools are all there, but Pettersson is very raw at this point.  He could be a top 4 defender with the ability to quarterback a powerplay, but whoever drafts him will need to be patient and bring Pettersson along slowyly.

Come back tomorrow to check out my #41 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.


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