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Ice hockey: Canadiens’ Carey Price steals the show at NHL Awards | Njus USA

Canadiens’ Carey Price steals the show at NHL Awards

Ice hockey USA New Updates

VANCOUVER — The Canadiens didn’t win any trophies at the NHL Awards Wednesday night in Las Vegas, but goalie Carey Price ended up stealing the show.While the NHL paid tribute to its fans during the televised show, 11-year-old Anderson Whitehead was
'VANCOUVER — The Canadiens didn’t win any trophies at the NHL Awards Wednesday night in Las Vegas, but goalie Carey Price ended up stealing the show.While the NHL paid tribute to its fans during the televised show, 11-year-old Anderson Whitehead was brought on stage to join Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Camille Kostek, who was an awards presenter. An online video of Anderson meeting Price went viral this past season. Anderson, who is from Brantford, Ont., is a huge Canadiens fan and Price is his favourite player. Anderson’s mother, Laura McKay, always wanted her son to meet the goalie, but wasn’t able to arrange it before she died last November at age 44 from cancer. After her death, the family found a way for Anderson to meet Price following a Canadiens morning skate before a game in Toronto on Feb. 23. The 11-year-old was brought to tears as Price took off his mask and gloves and then gave the sobbing boy a warm hug.After Anderson was brought on the Las Vegas stage Wednesday night, Kostek pointed him in the direction of a giant screen for a surprise message from Price.“Hey, Anderson, hope you’re enjoying Vegas,” Price said in the video. “I just wanted to say that your mother was a special person and sharing that moment with you is something that I’ll always remember for the rest of my life. It was very special to me.“But hold on … hold on, hold on,” Price said as he waved a hand at the camera and disappeared from the video screen.“Where’s he going?” Kostek said to Anderson. “He didn’t finish his message.”A couple of seconds later, Price appeared on stage and a stunned Anderson started to sob again. Price brought with him one of his Canadiens jerseys and gave the boy another warm hug.“Everything’s all right. OK, bud. Everything’s OK,” Price said as he held the boy. “Everything’s OK, everything’s great.“How about a round of applause for the young man here?”The Las Vegas crowd responded with a standing ovation.“So, I have two things for you,” Price then told Anderson. “One is this jersey, and the second is a question: Do you want to go to the All-Star Game next year?”“Yes,” Anderson responded.“Well, hopefully I’ll see you there next year, OK, buddy? Sound good?”Sounds fantastic. scowan@postmedia.com twitter.com/StuCowan1 Related “I have two things for you,” Carey Price told Anderson Whitehead at the NHL Awards. “One is this jersey, and the second is a question: Do you want to go to the All-Star Game next year?” Ethan Miller / Getty Images'

Local talent invited to Canadian junior hockey camp

Ice hockey USA New Updates

Four of the 43 players invited to the Canadian junior hockey summer development camp from July 27 to Aug. 4 have Saskatchewan ties.Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach, who was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., received an invite, along with fellow
'Four of the 43 players invited to the Canadian junior hockey summer development camp from July 27 to Aug. 4 have Saskatchewan ties.Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach, who was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., received an invite, along with fellow forwards Cole Fonstad, a Prince Albert Raider who hails from Estevan, and Regina’s Carson Foch, who plays for the Calgary Hitmen.Prince Albert native Braden Schneider, who dresses for the Brandon Wheat Kings, will attend as a defenceman.The attendees will be split into two teams at the camp — Team Red and Team White — and will play a pair of games against the United States and singles against Sweden and Finland.Canadian men’s softball team undefeated at WorldsAn 8-0 victory over Singapore on Wednesday propelled Canada to a 6-0 record and secured the Canadian men’s softball team first place in their pool.In the game, Saskatoon’s Patrick Burns contributed from the mound and at bat, recording three strikeouts in his one inning of relief, as well as picking up two RBI and a home run.Saskatoon’s Devon McCullough is also a pitcher for the Canadian team, but didn’t play in the game.Canada will finish off round-robin action on Thursday against South Africa and will advance to playoffs starting Friday.Gilbert, Paetkau to represent Canada at Pan Am GamesSaskatoon outfielder Jenny Gilbert will be wearing the red and white this summer as she has been selected to the Canadian women’s softball team for the Pan American Games.Joining Gilbert on the team will be Hepburn’s Dave Paetkau as assistant coach.The Games run from July 26 to Aug. 11 in Lima, Peru.Huskies to host Canada West track & field championshipsThe Huskies track & field teams will be defending their 2018-2019 Canada West titles in front of a hometown crowd as the University of Saskatchewan has been selected as the host for the 2019-2020 championships.Last season, Saskatchewan became the first program since 2004 to win both the men’s and women’s titles.The championship is slated Feb. 21-22 at the Saskatoon Field House.'

Canucks, Edler deal close? Maybe, but no one’s commenting

Ice hockey USA New Updates

Reports suggesting the Vancouver Canucks and Alex Edler have finalized a new contract appear to be premature, but that doesn’t mean a deal isn’t nearing completion.Multiple reports came out Wednesday afternoon suggesting the NHL club and the
'Reports suggesting the Vancouver Canucks and Alex Edler have finalized a new contract appear to be premature, but that doesn’t mean a deal isn’t nearing completion.Multiple reports came out Wednesday afternoon suggesting the NHL club and the soon-to-be free agent defenceman are on the verge of signing a three-year — or perhaps four-year — deal.“Still working on it,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said on the phone.“Bad scoop,” he added in reference to reports the deal was already done.Mark Stowe, Edler’s Point Roberts-based agent, was similarly tight-lipped about the situation. Despite reports Wednesday that a deal was done for Alex Edler to remain with the Canucks, sources say it’s still in the works. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS “Can’t comment. Sorry,” he said over the phone.Keeping quiet at this stage, with the draft at Rogers Arena just two days away, does make some dramatic sense; it would qualify as a big splash if Benning were able to announce Edler’s re-signing in front of a hometown crowd.Reportedly, both parties have agreed a new contract won’t include a no-movement clause in at least the third year of the deal, which would mean the Canucks wouldn’t be required to protect him in the Seattle expansion draft, slated for 2021.But if the deal does go three years, it would overlap with the first season of what are expected to be big second contracts for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.Re-signing Edler has been a major priority for Benning, given the lack of depth his team has on the blue-line and the fact that Edler remains the team’s best defender, even at the age of 33.'

How the Lakers’ lottery picks since 2014 all ended up elsewhere – Press Enterprise

Ice hockey USA New Updates

“The Los Angeles Lakers select …” Thursday night is liable to be the last time for the next few years the Lakers hear that phrase uttered in the NBA Draft lottery, and it is likely to be a strange moment. With a trade pending but not yet officially
'“The Los Angeles Lakers select …” Thursday night is liable to be the last time for the next few years the Lakers hear that phrase uttered in the NBA Draft lottery, and it is likely to be a strange moment. With a trade pending but not yet officially complete for Anthony Davis , NBA commissioner Adam Silver is poised to announce the fourth overall pick as a Lakers selection – even though everyone knows that player will be headed elsewhere no later than the end of July. The Lakers, who will have no picks remaining in the draft unless they trade back into it , have no plans to issue any statements about the No. 4 pick. Soon, he will likely be on his way to either New Orleans or possibly another trade partner to be revealed. In one sense, it’s the end of an era for the Lakers, although perhaps a welcome end. The prolonged stretch of losing seasons has given a franchise that had just two lottery picks before 2014 a rare chance to dip into the most exciting young talent entering the league. In four of the previous five drafts, the Lakers picked in the top seven picks, and were poised to do so again this year . But now, all of those picks are gone – turned into Anthony Davis in Saturday’s megadeal, traded away for salary cap space, or simply allowed to walk away for nothing. The Lakers also gave up much of their future draft control to the Pelicans in the most recent trade , meaning they’re unlikely to mine significant talent through the draft in coming years – perhaps a necessary cost of gaining a transcendent star like Davis, but a cost nonetheless. Here’s a timeline of how the Lakers’ bounty of draft choices ended up elsewhere, with course-changing events highlighted and notations for opportunities seized or missed: June 2014: The Lakers pick Julius Randle from Kentucky at No. 7 overall after falling one spot in the draft lottery. General Manager Mitch Kupchak says Randle was ranked higher than his draft position on the Lakers’ board. “He’s a player that will blend well in Los Angeles,” Kupchak says on ESPN. “He competes hard, he plays hard, and he loves contact. Great kid.” The 2014 draft turned out to be a relatively weak draft: Only two players, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, selected in 2014 have gone on to become All-Stars. Notable players selected after Randle include Zach LaVine, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jokic. October 2014: Against the Houston Rockets in his NBA debut, Randle breaks his leg. He goes on to miss the entire season with the injury, adding to the Lakers’ injury woes that year which include Kobe Bryant tearing his rotator cuff. The Lakers win just 21 games. June 2015: The Lakers pick No. 2 (moving up in the draft lottery) and select D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State. “At No. 2 you hope to get a player who has All-Star capability, and we think we did,” Kupchak said. “He is young. He’s got gifts you can really work long and hard on and still not acquire those gifts. Some of them you’re just born with, or somebody just sprinkles a little gold dust on you and it’s just there.” Only two other players from the 2015 draft have gone on to become All-Stars, and only Kristaps Porzingis (now with the Dallas Mavericks) was picked behind Russell. Other notable players picked behind Russell in the draft include Myles Turner and Devin Booker. March 2016: Russell and teammates have a public falling out over a leaked video of teammate Nick Young. While not a total expression of Russell’s reception in the locker room, the incident continues to affect the perception of Russell throughout his Lakers tenure – some outsiders call for him to be traded right away. June 2016: After a 17-win season and Bryant’s retirement, the Lakers wind up with the No. 2 pick and select Brandon Ingram from Duke. Kupchak calls Ingram’s comparisons to Kevin Durant as “unfair” but says “the similarities are striking.” One of the pre-draft evaluations Kupchak mentions at the podium is that Ingram seemed to get along with Randle, Russell, Larry Nance, Jordan Clarkson and other young members of the team at a dinner event. “We look at him and his age and his body type, his willingness to work and be coached,” Kupchak said. “So we think the upside, and the potential in him – we think right now there is no ceiling on him.” To date, only No. 1 pick Ben Simmons has made the All-Star Game from this draft. Other notable picks behind Ingram include Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Pascal Siakam. February 2017: Magic Johnson assumes power as Jim Buss and Kupchak are fired. The front office’s power shift comes with the renewed emphasis on clearing salary-cap space to pursue elite free agents. June 2017: The Lakers trade away Russell for the No. 27 pick and Brook Lopez, with Johnson later saying Russell lacked the leadership qualities that he sought in a point guard. The deal is also used to unload the contract of Timofey Mozgov for roughly $22 million in cap space, which the team identifies as critical to drawing elite free agents (at the time, the Lakers are in trade discussions for Paul George as well). The team goes on to use the No. 2 pick (moving up a spot in the lottery) to select point guard Lonzo Ball from UCLA, a local prospect with considerable hype. Johnson adds to it, identifying Ball as “the new face of the Lakers.” Notably, No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has barely played to date, mostly sidelined by injury. The players who have been productive behind Ball to date include Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Lauri Markkanen and Donovan Mitchell. The No. 27 pick in the Russell deal becomes Kyle Kuzma, who enjoys an All-Rookie team season and remains with the Lakers to this day. February 2018: While the Lakers don’t lose any lottery pick assets in a big trade at the deadline, they send Nance and Clarkson to Cleveland, profoundly shifting the chemistry of the team’s youthful core and further opening cap space in the hopes of luring two max contract players. June 2018: A first-round pick that the Lakers once conveyed to Phoenix in an ill-fated 2012 trade for Steve Nash finally becomes the No. 10 pick for Philadelphia. The 76ers use that to pick Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, who is traded to Phoenix. The Lakers are able to pick Michigan’s Moe Wagner in the first round at No. 25. While not involved directly among lottery picks, Wagner remains on the Lakers roster. July 2018: LeBron James signs with the Lakers, utilizing some of the cap space freed up in the Russell trade. Other Lakers assets leave during free agency, however. The Lakers renounce their rights to Randle, who turns around to sign a deal with the Pelicans. He goes on to set a career-high in scoring (21.4 ppg). Lopez also walks after one season to sign a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, going on to become a key piece of an Eastern Conference finals team that led the NBA in wins. February 2019: As the Lakers fail to acquire Davis at the trade deadline amid rumors that all of the team’s young talent was up for grabs, Russell is named an All-Star reserve amid a breakout season in Brooklyn. So far, he’s the only Lakers lottery pick from the past five years to be named to the All-Star Game. March 2019: Ball and Ingram are shut down for the season: Ball fails to come back from a severe ankle sprain, while Ingram requires surgery for a blood clot in his shoulder. Both players wind up playing fewer than 53 games in a 37-win season. June 2019: The Lakers trade away Ball, Ingram and this year’s No. 4 pick to the Pelicans in the Davis deal. When the trade is officially executed in July, the Lakers will have no remaining lottery picks – just James, Davis, Kuzma and cap space as the result of their maneuvers.'

NHL rumour roundup: Canucks kicking tires on Sabres defencemen?

Ice hockey Sportsnet.ca

The season is over, the St.Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions, but there’s no time for hockey fans to sit back and relax.
'The season is over, the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions and hardware is about to be handed out at the NHL Awards, but there’s no time for hockey fans to sit back and relax. The 2019 NHL Draft begins Friday with free agency right around the corner and, as we’ve seen in recent days, general managers around the league are keeping busy with trades, contract extensions, buyouts and much more to come. During a conference call after signing Erik Karlsson to an extension Monday, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson told reporters : “There’s been more conversation and communication between GMs in the last month than maybe ever since I’ve been a GM.” Is it mostly smoke with little fire? Or is this off-season shaping up to be one to remember? Complicating matters are the rumblings that the salary cap ceiling might not be quite as high in 2019-20 as teams expected it would be. With that in mind, here’s some of the latest trade buzz from around the league. ‘NOT EASY’ FOR CROSBY TO HEAR PENGUINS TRADE TALK Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang aren’t likely to be traded this summer, however Penguins GM Jim Rutherford wouldn’t describe either player as untouchable during a recent interview with radio station 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. Rutherford also said he’s “not actively looking to trade” Phil Kessel but would mull any legitimate offer that comes his way – as any competent GM would. “There’s been great players traded in this league,” Rutherford said earlier this week . “If somebody comes along with a package that makes sense for the Penguins, we have to look at it.” All the hypothetical situations and conjecture can be fun for fans and pundits at this time on the hockey calendar, but it can be downright stressful for players involved in trade rumblings and their teammates. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was asked about the rumours surrounding his team. “I don’t think you can get caught up in the chatter too much, but I think it’s definitely tough, especially when you are talking about guys who have been involved with the team for a really long time,” Crosby said . “It’s not easy to hear those rumours, but that being said, we all have to be professional about it and find a way to make sure we’re ready and we’re better next year.” The Penguins currently have more than $55 million committed to players through the 2021-22 season – and that’s after trading Olli Maatta who has three years left on his contract with an AAV of more than $4 million. “We were getting ourselves to a point where we might have been in a little [salary cap] trouble,” Rutherford told Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . “It was going to be either [Jack] Johnson or Maatta to open up the necessary cap space and open up the logjam at defence. And as it turned out, it ended up being Olli.” Rutherford has consistently been one of the most aggressive GMs in hockey so the Pens in all probability aren’t done making moves. CANUCKS KICKING TIRES ON SABRES DEFENDERS Bolstering the blue line is priority No. 1 for Jim Benning and his Vancouver Canucks . They’re expected to target Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers if those two pending UFAs make it to the open market, while the team is also working to extend Alex Edler. If the Canucks decide to explore trade options to upgrade the back end, Buffalo GM Jason Botterill might be receiving a call since Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet 650 is hearing the Canucks could be interested in either Rasmus Ristolainen or Zach Bogosian – both big, right-shot defencemen. Bogosian, 28, has one year left on his contract ($5,142,857 cap hit, but $6 million in dollars owed), while Ristolainen, 24, has three years left at $5.4 million per. Dhaliwal also suggested the Canucks could put feelers out for Nikolay Goldobin, but he expects the team to tender a qualifying offer to the pending RFA. Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy adds Benning isn’t looking to part with draft picks and would be shocked if he moved the 10th-overall pick. SENS AND CECI READY TO SPLIT? The Ottawa Senators are hoping to hit the reset button after a disastrous 2018-19 campaign. Defenceman Cody Ceci is a restricted free agent and Sens GM Pierre Dorion has been in contact with his agent discussing both shorter and longer deals, but Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports Dorion is “ seriously exploring the trade market ” for the 25-year-old. HURRICANES WILLING TO SWAP DEFENCEMAN FOR FORWARD The Carolina Hurricanes were a terrific puck possession team this past season but only put up middle-of-the-pack offensive numbers with a below average power play, so GM Don Waddell is hoping to be active on the draft floor later this week. Carolina has depth on defence that could possibly be leveraged to add a quality forward. “It’s one of the things that if it’s the right type of forward, we might look at it,” Waddell told Tom Gulitti of NHL.com . “If not, if we don’t do anything in the next week, then maybe it’s through free agency.” Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, Calvin de Haan, Brett Pesce and Trevor van Riemsdyk make up the Hurricanes blue line at the moment. Faulk is the only one in the bunch who has a modified no-trade clause. TOREY KRUG STAYING IN BOSTON? As he gets set to enter the final year of his contract, Torey Krug ’s name was briefly circulating on the rumour mill. If you’re a Bruins fan who wants to keep Krug, this response from Don Sweeney should ease your nerves: “If somebody blew us away, every player has to be looked at in that way,” the Bruins GM told reporters earlier this week . “When you’re an organization, you just have to, you’re doing a disservice if you don’t. But it would take a pretty unique opportunity for us to part with Torey. We think he’s a big part of the fabric of our group. He’s kind of that next wave of leadership that we talk about.” Krug ranks 10th in scoring among defencemen since the start of the 2013-14 season with 286 points in 459 games.'

Patrick Johnston: Trouba deal just another piece in evolving market for defencemen

Ice hockey USA New Updates

The Trouba trade adds fuel to the fire that is the market for NHL defencemen, one the Canucks definitely see themselves in the middle of.If you’re Tyler Myers, pondering free agency discussions with NHL teams beginning next Sunday, it’s still
'The Trouba trade adds fuel to the fire that is the market for NHL defencemen, one the Canucks definitely see themselves in the middle of.If you’re Tyler Myers, pondering free agency discussions with NHL teams beginning next Sunday, it’s still full-steam ahead.Yes, even after Jacob Trouba became his former teammate on Monday, traded by the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers.The thing is, just as Myers hitting free agency has appeared inevitable for some time, Trouba being shipped out also seemed inevitable.So, from that standpoint, nothing has changed. Myers was always going to chase a big ticket deal on the open market. Trouba was always going to end up on another team.Enter Alex Edler.It’s become clear that while the Vancouver Canucks would like to bring back the veteran defenceman, he’s at least going to listen to offers on the free agency market when the conversation window opens on Sunday.The Canucks, you may have heard, want to re-jig their defence corps for next season. Quinn Hughes will surely grow his game by leaps and bounds next season, but he can’t play 60 minutes. The Canucks simply need more on the blue-line. Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images General manager Jim Benning is on the hunt for new defencemen, either on the trade market or through free agency.We’ve long assumed the big sticking point between the 33-year-old Edler and the Canucks was over the new contract including no-movement clause, which would require the Canucks to protect him in the 2021 expansion draft, but reports this week suggest otherwise.The no-movement issue may yet rear its head, but supposedly the first obstacle is that Edler and the Canucks have different visions on how long his contract should be.Is it all just negotiation? It does seem logical that Edler should at least listen to other teams, that’s his biggest leverage after all. The Canucks want him back, he knows, so from his perspective they’re just arguing over the terms of the Canucks’ surrender.In the back of all this is the interest level of Jake Gardiner.The Canucks are interested in the free agent rearguard and sources say the likely-former Leaf is intrigued by the Canucks as well.Of course, he has many suitors. It doesn’t take a lot of work to realize that clubs like the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens could surely use a defenceman of his skill set, a guy who is both solid in his own end and a strong puck mover at the other end.It’s about how Gardiner perceives the Canucks’ curve towards winning, and how that compares to the other clubs.Which brings us back to the market in front of the Canucks. With Erik Karlsson off the free agency table, Trouba and Radko Gudas now traded, the list of available defencemen has shifted.Edler being out there is a factor, of course, but he’s still older than Gardiner as far as the free agents are concerned. Supposedly Philadelphia could still ship out Shayne Gostisbehere, he’s a top chip to add via trade.You’d hope the Canucks would go chasing for Gostisbehere, a left-handed shot who, like Gardiner, pushes the play in the right direction. He’s also still 26, right in his prime.But what’s his price? Would Benning be willing to part with, say, their 10th-overall pick in this week’s NHL Entry Draft? Would Benning move next year’s pick?He’s a GM after a contract extension, working for an owner who wants desperately to get back into the playoffs, so you’ve got to believe he’s all-in on next season.‘All-in Jim,’ that has a ring to it. Agents and other teams know that there are deals to be had in Vancouver and it’s not just about this weekend’s draft.If you haven’t already, start your engine. pjohnston@postmedia.com twitter.com/risingaction'

Ben Kuzma: Calder Trophy favourite Elias Pettersson has been better than advertised

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Elias Pettersson never lost his focus during his first NHL campaign. BEN NELMS / THE CANADIAN PRESS Canucks’ centre combined creativity with responsibility in a remarkable rookie seasonThomas Gradin knew the timing was perfect for Elias Pettersson
'Elias Pettersson never lost his focus during his first NHL campaign. \t\t\t\t\t\tBEN NELMS / THE CANADIAN PRESS\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tCanucks’ centre combined creativity with responsibility in a remarkable rookie seasonThomas Gradin knew the timing was perfect for Elias Pettersson to make an immediate NHL impact.The Vancouver Canucks’ chief amateur scout isn’t surprised that the electric rookie centre is favoured to capture the Calder Trophy on Wednesday in Las Vegas over finalists Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues and Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres.The constant narrative that Pettersson would face a tough transition to the North American ice surface, game and culture never really resonated with Gradin. He knew the super slick, quick-thinking, hard-shooting and defensively aware fifth-overall pick in the 2017 draft wouldn’t just walk through the NHL door — he would kick it in. He did it in Sweden. Why not here?“Obviously, the game has changed here and in Sweden and it’s a little bit more straightforward in Europe now than 20 years ago,” said Gradin. “But in the NHL, it’s less straight forward than 20 years ago. In Elias’s case, his strength is it doesn’t really matter how the game goes — he plays his game.”And he did it in spades. He led the Canucks in scoring with 66 points (28-38) in 71 games — 21 points better that Ottawa Senators rookie winger Brady Tkachuk — and rebounded from a concussion and knee injury. He also led all rookies with 10 power play goals and a gaudy 19.4 per cent shooting accuracy.“I don’t like to talk about myself, but I like to be one step ahead of my opponents if I’m forechecking or in a 50-50 situation,” said Pettersson. “I always like to have a plan to win the situation. I create a lot of scoring chances for myself and my teammates and I like to pass the puck more than shoot it. “I play with a lot of instincts and I like how Nicklas Backstrom plays. He makes his teammates better and creates chances for himself, but I’ve got a lot to learn to get to the next level.”That’s what excites the local hockey populace. Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his first-period goal with teammates against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on November 06, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Gregory Shamus / PNG Here’s a driven kid who could sport an ego. But he’s hard on himself and a team-first mentality is poster-boy stuff for a franchise in transition. Losing grates on him and he dwells more on turning a puck over than turning heads. And when he became the focus of game plans to take away time and space, a drought of one goal in his final 19 regular-season games only heightened his resolve.“I need to find a way and see what I can do better to be successful,” he vowed. “I want to play my best hockey every game.”And, for the most part, he did.Pettersson became a highlight-reel regular with precise playmaking, a laser-like wrist shot and a heavy and accurate one-time slapper. He even had shootout bravado. He faked going forehand and went to the backhand to draw MacKenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils to the near post. And then, with one hand on the stick, he deftly slipped the puck to the far side of an open net.“His eye-hand co-ordination is excellent, so as long as the puck is close to him, things happen,” added Gradin. “And when he controls the puck, he controls the play.”Pettersson scored on his first shot in his first regular-season game and had 10 goals through 10 outings. The skill was obvious, but his responsible three-zone awareness is rare for newcomers obsessed by offence. Amid the search for superlatives to summarize his innate feel for the game, Gradin took great solace. He understood what made Pettersson tick well before he became the talk of the town. And that shouldn’t be surprising. Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on December 31, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Canucks 4-0. Jim McIsaac / PNG The sharp-eyed scout discovered an unranked Alex Edler playing in a lowly third-tier Swedish league before the 2004 draft. And he convinced management to take one final pre-draft look after being less than impressed with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who would steal the 1999 draft show.Gradin ventured on his own more than a dozen additional times to see the whiz kid light it up with Timra IK of the second-tier Allsvenskan league. He amassed 40 points (19-21) in 43 games, and the following season with champion Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League, he was regular season and playoff MVP. His 56 regular-season points (24-32) and 19 points (10-9)  in 13 playoff games were further validation that Gradin may have hit a home run.“He was extraordinary in Sweden and could make a move in a very dangerous situation,” said Gradin. “He had the skill and ability to make the move happen.”The Canucks had some reservations about how a 165-pound centre would deal with the physical aspect of the NHL, but they were all in on Pettersson because of how the game was trending and how the centre got to this point by playing many sports.“He’s athletic and that’s significant for him to play here and read  the play ahead of time,” said Gradin. “That’s what makes him special. He signifies the generation that is coming and has a sense that he’s exceptional.” bkuzma@postmedia.com twitter.com/@benkuzma'