Before he is in the National Hockey League a month, rookie Elias Pettersson makes people wonder how the Vancouver Canucks can achieve it by choosing the fifth draft 2017.
Not only did the 20-year-old Swede almost cut the pitch in the newcomer scoring contest – Ottawa's excellent November, Senator Brady Tkachuk has made him narrow the gap – but Pettersson also surpassed the NHLers second year Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, the forward the draft class and became the first and second in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The Canucks hope people will ask the same thing next year about Quinn Hughes, the ultra-dynamic defensemen compiled seventh overall last June and is playing his second season at the University of Michigan.
Hughes could be the best player in US college hockey this season and if he wins the Hobby Baker Award, he will inherit the trophy from another Canuck rookie, center Adam Gaudette.
Hughes symbolized Canucks 'design philosophy' 2018: speed and skill exceeded size, offensive potential for defensive risk. Not only does Vancouver have a pile of attractive prospects starting their pro careers in the American Hockey League, they have a wave of other talented players coming from junior colleges and hockey, and European leagues.
Quinn Hughes, 19, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Draft: First round, 7 overall
Season to date: 13 GP 3G | 12 A | 15 P | -5
If you are old enough to remember Brian Leetch, perhaps the biggest American-born player, you will understand the core elements in Hughes' game. The brother of the 2019 potential first-overall chose Jack Hughes, Quinn was one of the best skaters of his age and seemed to have a hockey mind to match his skills. What he has is size. Whether he is greater than five feet-10 and 170 pounds, he will probably play for the Canucks, not Wolverines as 19 years. Within a month, Hughes will be a central figure in the Junior World Championships in Vancouver and Victoria and, depending on the Michigan season, could be in the NHL the following spring.
Canuck senior director of player development Ryan Johnson: "There is so much attention to size and weight, but you want to make sure that it's not the focus of any player. You need to do work at the gym and get stronger, but don't focus on (heavy). The feeling of hockey and speed, all of that, beats size. Quintin knew that. His feeling of hockey and skating is very elite, I think the biggest thing for him is just understanding what he might be able to get at the level (college) he needs to work at the next level. He is in a very good place with a good program. He is a focused child. He thought about the game in the right way and noticed all the little details. We are very happy about him. "
Jett Woo, 18, D, Moose Jaw Warrior (WHL)
Draft: Second round, 37 overall
Season to date: 18 GP | 3G | 10 A | 13 P | +6
This physical blueliner is an outlier in the draft Canucks' 2018. He is an outlier among draft picks, generally – throwback defenders who desperately need contact and punish opponents. After 25 points in 44 matches in the West League last season, Woo will likely improve his offensive game this fall. But he started late after injuring his knee during the summer, then irritated him when he reported to the Soldier's training camp. With a fee of 205 pounds, he can play against and can try with the Canadian world junior team, which will be led by coach Moose Jaw, Tim Hunter.
Ryan Johnson: "He works to get himself (healthy) and jumps on things. All signs are that he doesn't really lose the beat. His competition and all the things we like about him are there. We know how he defends, he likes to play physically and likes the contact side of the game. After starting with a little difficulty, it was very good for him to join the Canadian Team. "
Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen explore pucks with a mix of facts and fun, relying on a variety of hockey sound groups to give them the most loved game in the country.
Tyler Madden, 19, C, Northeastern University (NCAA)
Draft: Third round, 68th overall
Season to date: 12 GP | 5 G | 5 A | 10 P | +2
This five-foot-11, 152-pound pillar has the competitiveness and intelligence you would expect from the son of John Madden, who won three Stanley Cups and a Selke Cup before becoming a coach. But Tyler Madden has shown as a freshman that he also has many significant attacks. The United States Hockey League degree has become a core player in Northeastern, where he played in the first row, playing power and killing penalties.
Johnson: "He's an adult and has a mature game. You won't see him playing in the top line on a good program at Northeastern and thinks he's a new student. He is fast and has heavy sticks for big men. He is a competitor, but has very good expertise. The details of this game are natural to him, which is not surprising considering the genealogy. There really is no limit there. It would be very interesting to witness its development not only from year to year, but from month to month. That's what he improved. "
Toni Utunen, 18, D, Tappara (SM-liiga)
Draft: The fifth round, overall 130
Season to date: 18 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 P | +3
Another small prospect with good mobility, Utunen transitioned to high school as a full-time player in Finland's top league after spending most of last season in the second division. Like many Finnish definitions, he plays a simple game. With a weight of five feet 11 and 169 pounds, it must be stronger and a long-term project. But the Canucks thinks he is projecting into the NHL game.
Johnson: "The Finnish Elite League is a difficult league, so he will go through adjustments that move up to that league. He doesn't get much ice time, which is usually not at that age. But he played with men, learned to practice and practice the right way, so it was a big step for him. Toni is a good skater, a smart player who moves the pieces well. He can get up from the ice. "
Artem Manukyan, 20, W, Omsk (KHL)
Draft: Sixth round, 186th overall
Season to date: 33 GP 2 G | 10 A | 12 P | +5
With a weight of five feet seven and 139 pounds, this Armenian-Russian dynamo makes Quinn Hughes look like Victor Hedman. This is also a high order for him to make NHL, but Manukyan is one of the more attractive prospects in the Canucks organization. Although he has become cold after a hot offensive start, the 20-year-old in the Continental League (0.375) has increased more than four times during the draft season. He has the skills and expertise needed by a player the size of him, but the Canucks also like how he competes.
Johnson: "I watched him play in the world junior tournament last year and he seemed to jump from the page for me. I wasn't there to see it; I was there mainly to watch the top-rated people who would go near the top of the draft. But seeing him playing, man, he has so much jam and so many skills. He competed. Every time he is on the ice he does something where we pay attention. Our amateur group (scouting) felt that if we had the chance to shoot him in one of the final rounds, he was worthy of being shot. He will be an attractive man to follow. There is an increase there. We don't know where to go. "