Elias Pettersson had an excellent rookie season in 2018-19 with 28 goals and 38 assists in 71 games. He won the Calder Trophy over the likes of Jordan Binnington, Rasmus Dahlin, Miro Heiskanen, Brady Tkachuk, Andrei Svechnikov and Anthony Cirelli.
He was labelled a star by some in Vancouver after his rookie season, but he hadn't truly reached that level until this season in my opinion.
We are going to look at Pettersson's progression by season and by using player game ratings, show how he did game by game each year.
The breakdown will show the consistency needed in each game to be close to where Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon are with their overall ratings above 7.0. There are very few off nights for players at this level which should become evident below.
Consistency is the key to a long productive career in the NHL.
In Pettersson's rookie year he had 19 games with a game rating of 6.2 or less, which was 26.8% of the games he played which were sub-par. He had 14 games above 7.0 which were 19.7% of his games that year were very good efforts. The graph above shows two games at 8.41 (game 9) and 8.43 (game 26) and another at 7.76 (game 37) at which point we can see he faded a little after that which was to be expected from a 19-year-old coming from the SHL. He had moments of excellence but a fairly typical inconsistent 71 games for a rookie to finish off with an overall rating of 6.60. He deserved the Calder.
In his second season, Pettersson played 68 games and had 27 goals and 39 assists and showed a little more consistency but less of the top-end talent we had seen the year before. Only 11 of his 68 games (16.2%) had a rating of less than 6.2 and he had 16 games above 7.0 (23.5%). He had his two best games (7.79 and 7.91) in back-to-back games 11 and 12. He showed an overall progression in the year but was missing a bit of the wow factor he flashed the prior year. He finished with a rating of 6.65.
In his third season, Pettersson only played 26 games and managed 10 goals and 11 assists in the bubble and ended up missing 30 games. He had four games under a 6.2 rating (15.4%) but only had three games over 7.0 (11.5%). His season high was 7.27 in game number nine. He was still able to finish with a rating of 6.55 and still be more consistent than his first two years in a limited number of games.
Pettersson entered his fourth year in the NHL in 2021-22 and was still not 100% from his wrist injury from the year before. He finished with 32 goals and 36 assists in 80 games after a very slow start with 10 goals and 12 assists in 42 games.
You can see from game 14 to game 37 where he had only one game above a 7.0 rating and had 11 games below 6.2 which was almost half the games during that stretch not contributing much.
On the season he had ratings of 6.2 or lower 28.8% of the time and ratings over 7.0, 23.75% of the time. It was a very inconsistent season with many peaks and valleys and overall he had a player rating of 6.59.
After 19 games this season, Pettersson hasn't had a game under 6.24 and has had seven games (36.8%) over 7.0. He had a career-high rating in game 11 where he had five points and eight shots on goal.
His consistency has been on display so far and he has an overall rating of 6.87 which puts him 16th in the NHL. To date, he has 10 goals and 13 assists in 19 games.
I'm going to tag a player rating of 6.2 or less as an off-game. Here are Pettersson's percentages in his career from his rookie season on the left to 2022-23 on the far right.
His career arch took a step backwards in 2020-21 when he was injured and continued to affect his performance into 2021-22 but he appears to have hit his potential in 2022-23. If you drew a diagonal line from his second season to his fifth you can see his natural progression.