When thinking of what kinds of prospects the Maple Leafs seem to like, one common thing is that they seem to take guys who are already pretty good at everything. They may not necessarily be elite at any one thing, but it's tough to find a major weakness in guys like Knies, Minten, or Cowan. Is Knies not necessarily the greatest passer? Does Minten's offense not stand out that much? Could Cowan have a better shot? Sure. But they're also all pretty solid at many important things to succeed in the NHL. They also like guys who are leaders, though how they exemplify that can vary from player to player.

Sweden does not have a great crop of prospects this season, but one guy who has stood out through pretty much this entire season is Lucas Pettersson. He hasn't necessarily been extremely flashy nor gone on a real hot run where he looked completely dominant, but neither has he necessarily been invisible or ice cold for stretches. He's simply been steady and reliable everywhere he's played.


  • Position: Left-Shot Center/Winger
  • League(s): SHL / J20 Nationell
  • Height: 5'11" (5 foot 11.5 inches at the draft combine, specifically)
  • Weight: 173 lbs
  • Birthdate: April 17th, 2006

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: 31st
  • Will Scouch: 34th
  • Elite Prospects: 41st
  • Scott Wheeler: 36th
  • Future Considerations: 32nd
  • Dobber Prospects: 50th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 41st

Pettersson started this season playing for Team Sweden at the Hlinka Gretzky cup. He was the assistant captain, and had 4 points in 4 games which was good for 3rd on the team. He would later play for Sweden at the U18 Five Nations tournament, the World Junior A Championship, and some other miscellaneous international games and tournaments, and at the World U18 Championships that just ended in May. At the World U18s he had 8 points in 7 games which was a tie for the team lead, and was close to averaging 20 minutes per game. He was an alternate captain, played a lot in all situations, and was definitely a leader on the ice. So across all those international tournaments, he played in 35 games with 16 goals and 42 points. He did not lead the team in goals or points, but was close to the top in every tournament.

What Pettersson did lead the team on was everything else. He played in all situations, he was used as the 1C at times, other times a 2C or a winger between the top two lines. He played on the top powerplay, he played on the penalty kill, he'd be relied upon defensively and to drive play towards offense. He'd be out there to hold leads and to try and jumpstart a comeback.

This trend held through Pettersson's season in Sweden's U20 junior league, where he played the bulk of the season. He had 27 goals and 57 points in 44 games for Modo, which was good for fourth highest in points per game for U18 players. He also got into 5 games at the SHL level with around 13 minutes of total ice time total across them all.

All in all, it was a very good but not spectacular season for Pettersson as a prospect. If he was a really exceptional prospect, he'd have played many more games with a bigger role at the pro level. And it's not like Modo was a great SHL team that was so deep he was blocked, they were one of the bottom feeders this year. But you can still get solid prospects out of the U20 level from draft year players.

From Lassi Alanen's tracking data: https://www.patreon.com/user/posts?u=13951676


Offensively, Pettersson is not necessarily the kind of elite talent you'd expect from a point producing top forward. He is not that flashy and doesn't necessarily have a big standout skill. What he has is a lot of versatility and no major weakness – he is the kind of player you may have picked up by now that I tend to like.

In terms of the usual kinds of skill, Pettersson has a nice shot but it's not at a very high level. Adding muscle and maybe growing another inch or two if he has a late growth spurt could help with generating more power from it, but what he has not is pretty quick and accurate. Puck handling-wise, I've seen many scouts say that he is quite good stick handling with the puck in close and that's something I did pick up at times in his international play.

Pettersson's best offensive ability, however, is his playmaking. Like I've said for other prospects, the puck handling helps his playmaking a lot – it gives him the ability to open passing lanes or hold off defenders for more time, so his teammates can get open. His high end skating, which I would argue may be his actual best ability, also helps a lot with his playmaking for the same reasons. He has a good mix of quickness, agility and speed. I've a couple of Swedish-specific scouts say that they don't think his skating, as good as it is, is at a high enough level to stand out at the NHL level. That's also something that adding muscle and maybe growing a bit more would help with.

From Scott Wheeler at The Athletic:

He makes decisions quickly on the ice and shoots it quickly when he gets it in good spots, with a dangerously accurate snap shot and a confident one-touch shot. He's got great hands and an ability to delay and hesitate on defenders, freezing them off the rush so that he can cut past and gain an advantage.

The real strengths for Pettersson, and why he is looked at as a leader and used in all situations for Sweden in their international tournaments, come from the little things that coaches love. As a center or a winger, he shows a lot of promise as a true two-way guy. His skating helps on both sides of the puck, and defensively he looks very reliable for his age in terms of his positioning, work ethic, and all those lovely buzz words.

If you consider Pettersson's size and offensive abilities, I think the kind of player you'd hope Pettersson turns into is someone like Alex Kerfoot. Not necessarily as an exact copy, but more in terms of the versatility to play numerous positions, up and down the lineup, and help out because of the ability to hold your own in all three zones of the ice.

From Brock Otten at McKeen's Hockey:

His game is so well rounded and versatile. He’s on the ice whether his team is down a goal or up one, one of the many reasons that he’s been wearing a letter for the Swedish U18 team this year. Pettersson skates well. He’s middle of the ice focused. He competes hard in all three zones and has excellent anticipation/awareness away from the puck.

What brings everything together for Pettersson is his smarts, hockey sense, intelligence, whatever you want to call it. A lot of his game is based on quickness and the ability to play at a high pace. This isn't just from his skating, it also has to do with his ability to react quickly to pressure and read how the play may develop. That way he can be in the right place at the right time more often than not, and then his speed and reaction time helps him gain that step or two on the opposition so he has that extra space and speed already generated.

From Erik Sjolund at FC Hockey:

Pettersson is a left-shot two-way center with great hockey sense and anticipation. For me, he is one of the smartest players coming out of Sweden this year. He always keeps his head on a swivel to be aware of his surroundings and oncoming opponents. This allows him to be fully aware of where his teammates are so he can attract coverage and then deliver passes to open areas and create high-danger scoring chances... In my opinion, there is no question he can become a difference-making hockey player in the NHL based on his versatile two-way game and his leadership qualities alone.


There are two downsides to Pettersson as a prospect that I can see. The first is that his offense, while not a weakness, seems limited in terms of his skill. He's the kind of guy that gets by offensively on being able to out-speed and out-think his peers, which is easier to do in junior. But as he advances to pro hockey in Sweden, then the AHL and the NHL, he's not going to have as much of an advantage if he has one at all.

At that point, how effective can Pettersson be with the skills he has? He still has time to develop and refine his play and improve those skills, but he's starting from a place that's further back of others who could be late first rounders. That's another reason I compare him to Kerfoot. If he does make the NHL, it feels like he'd be like that in terms of the good and the bad. If Kerfoot drove you crazy for not having as much of an offensive impact as you hoped for, you probably won't like Pettersson much as a prospect. Not unless his offense develops more than I'd guess he will.

The other issue that Pettersson has is common to a lot of prospects – physical development. He doesn't shy away from contact and the dirty areas of the ice, but that is clearly something he will need to work on. Again, it's something that doesn't hold him back right now, but that's because his competition the vast majority of time this season has been similarly aged peers who also are not fully developed physically. He won't have as easy a time if he were to have been played full time in the SHL, for example.

So Pettersson does not seem like a guy who will potentially crack an NHL roster after only a couple of seasons, even if things develop right for him. He does not have the physical maturity that Easton Cowan had, for example, when he was drafted. I'd guess Pettersson would be a longer-term project, which again may be something you don't want as much from a first round pick – even if it's a late first rounder. That is something that will come with time, and from what I've seen scouts say he does get good reviews for his work ethic. So I do think he will get there.


Myself? I can see a world where I take Pettersson straight up with Toronto's first round pick. This kind of thing happened last season when all of the first rounders I really liked wound up being taken by the time Toronto's pick came around. He's right on that line for me.

On the other hand, if Toronto has the chance to trade down and get more picks then Pettersson seems like he could be an ideal candidate to target with an early/mid-second rounder. I'd say he probably makes more sense in that range, even if there really isn't a big difference between late first rounders and early second rounders. It's more that he may not be someone you absolutely want so early, and if you can trade down to get more value then he seems more likely to still be available later than others ranked above him.

As of writing this, pretty much everyone has Pettersson ranked as a borderline late first rounder, but the vast majority has him in the early second round. That does feel like the best spot for him, but with the World U18s coming up he will have one more chance to showcase his ability to impact big games among other top prospects in his age group.

I think he'll solidify himself as a late first rounder. After all, it was the other big international tournaments throughout this season that has been where he's looked the best. I hope he goes off, because I quite like him.

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, The Athletic, and more.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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