Marcus Pettersson developed steadily over the last few years, a positive sign for NHL teams willing to draft the center turned defenseman. Playing for Skellefteå AIK in Sweden, Pettersson climbed the ranks from J18 to J20 and made his professional debut in the SHL as a 17-year-old this season.
While his stat line only shows two penalty minutes through 10 games in the pros, Pettersson is trending toward a bright professional career. Pettersson fared better in the SHL's junior league, scoring four goals and 18 points through 38 games this year.
Not only is Marcus playing comfortably in his hometown of Skellefteå, but he is following in his father's footprints. Daniel Pettersson, a Skellefteå AIK veteran having played 14 seasons with the club, aided in his son's development and growth as a hockey player:
"When I was kid I watched dad when he was playing and I learned how things worked. He knows hockey so we have been able to talk about games and the different situations and it has been helpful."
Pettersson also boasts international experience playing in WHC-17 and WJC-18 tournaments. He will get an opportunity to expand on that experience over the next two years at the World Junior Championships in Montreal and Toronto.
His skating ability, size and awareness suggest he can be an effective two-way defender eventually but does not play an overly abrasive style for a player his size and will need to improve his agility and strength if he is to compete on a nightly basis.
Named assistant captain to start the year, Petterson was used in all situations for his junior club Skelleftea and even made his SHL debut with the parent club [...] a converted defenseman Pettersson is still learning the nuances of the defensive game and is prone to a rash of mistakes [...] can be drawn to overcommit, playing the puck and not the man, mismanaging his gaps and not applying a physical edge to punish opposing forwards [...] puck skills are mature handling it skilfully and is a talented passer, both short and long range.
He is a powerful shooter from the point and boasts a quick, heavy shot that he’ll use on the power play. Defensively, Pettersson is physical down low and he isn't afraid to use his size. He does need to work on his anticipation in his own end, as he often steps up too soon or too late and gets beat. He is, at times, far too aggressive on defense and loses track of position and where he is in the zone.
His hockey IQ and instincts are decent. He’s very tall, lanky and shy at times, yet typically makes the right play and has a lot of room for growth. You don’t notice him a lot, but when you pay attention you realize his hockey sense is pretty good. Like many Swedish defenders, he has very good skills and is very good on his skates.
ESPN's Corey Pronman:
You see the tools of SWE D Marcus Pettersson. He's big, very mobile, skilled but his D zone work little cringe worthy.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) April 26, 2014
Average Ranking: 37
Marcus Pettersson has the height of an NHL defenseman at 6'3, but weighs in light at only a shade over 160 pounds. The Swedish defenseman should be considered a long-term development project as he'll need to bulk up over the next few years. The fact that he played as a forward until making a transition to the blueline position just two years ago means he'll need focused coaching to further his development.
It's hard to see the Habs taking Pettersson in the first round, especially after getting burned with a similar development project in David Fischer. Marcus Pettersson makes more sense as a second round pick, unless maybe Trevor Timmins and company have the wild idea of converting him back to his original center position. Unlikely.
As it stands, Pettersson's game may be better suited for Swedish Hockey League play. It will be important to gauge how interested he will be in leaving home to work on his North American game. His desire and willingness to make the move will influence teams' willingness to take a flyer on him in the first round.
You can follow him on Twitter if you understand Swedish or enjoy frequent retweets:
"Oh, vilken härlig dag"— Marcus Pettersson (@mpettersson16) May 21, 2014