VANCOUVER — Elias Pettersson revealed it was a wrist injury that caused him to miss the Vancouver Canucks’ final 30 games this season, but the No. 1 center said Thursday he expects to be fully healthy in time for the start of next season.
The 22-year-old said he hyperextended his wrist when his stick hit a shin pad during a 4-0 win at the Winnipeg Jets on March 1. He played in a 5-2 loss at Winnipeg the next day but left the morning skate early March 4 and never returned despite originally being listed as day to day with an upper-body injury.
Pettersson said surgery was considered, but will not be required.
“It just needs time to heal,” he said. “We talked about maybe doing a surgery but the doctors made the right decision to rest.
“It’s been very tough since I got injured. I didn’t think it would take this long. It’s still not 100 percent but just a little more rest and workouts in the summer and I’ll be good to go to next season.”
Pettersson has skated on his own since the injury, but struggled to shoot the puck.
“It’s the shooting that’s been bothering me, to flex the stick,” he said. “Training is fine. It’s more on ice that’s bothering me the most, but training-wise it’s fine.”
Pettersson scored 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games this season, including 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his final 14 games. He scored 66 points in each of his first two NHL seasons, including 27 goals in 68 games last season.
The No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Pettersson won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 2019, and has scored 153 points (65 goals, 88 assists) in 165 NHL games. He can become a restricted free agent after this season.
“This is where I want to play,” Pettersson said, “And for the contract situation, that’s why I have agents. I’m not stressed to sign a contract. I’m just excited to have that signed and just look forward for the future.”
Vancouver (23-29-4) finished last in the seven-team Scotia North Division this season; the top four teams qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Last season Pettersson scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 17 playoff games, tied with center J.T. Miller for the Canucks lead, to help Vancouver reach the Western Conference Second Round, where it lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.
Vancouver began this season 6-11-0, and following a six-day schedule break were 16-18-3 on March 30, when forward Adam Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from practice. It was the first sign of an outbreak that extended to 22 players and four staff members, including coach Travis Green, testing positive. The Canucks had nine games postponed, didn’t play again until April 18 and went 7-11-1 the rest of the way.
“I think what we did last year in the playoffs was we showed what we can do, that we can compete with the best teams in the League,” Pettersson said. “This season we didn’t start that well, I didn’t start the season that well, then we got going after 10-15 games and I felt really good and then I injured myself and I’ve been gone since. So definitely been my most frustrating season.”